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Ransomware attack hinders library for second time

July 18, 2019

Photo by AP Imagery

Daviess County Public Library is offering patrons another unexpected amnesty on fines for overdue materials after a ransomware attack has limited access to some of the facility’s computers for the second time in three months.

According to the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), ransomware is malicious software that prevents access to systems or data until a ransom fee is paid to the attacker. Once a network has been infected with ransomware, the malicious software attempts to spread to storage drives and other accessible systems.

On Wednesday, DCPL issued a statement on social media responding to patrons who were concerned when they were not able to access their online account via the library’s website.

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“…Unfortunately, the malware attack we experienced in April was never fully resolved,” the statement said. The statement also explained that although the recovery process will be lengthy, the library guarantees “no personal information was breached.”

DCPL Director Erin Waller told the Owensboro Times, “this type of malware is encryption malware. They aren’t interested in or even have access to [patron personal info]…they just want to ransom the encryption key.”

CISA explains that if the attackers demands aren’t met, data may simply remain unavailable or be deleted from the system. However, the agency warns against entities paying a ransom to attackers noting organizations have no certainty they will actually regain access to their data and could make themselves larger targets for future attacks.

When asked if DCPL had paid a ransom in the past or plans to pay the current ransom, Waller responded, “Absolutely not.”

After reviewing references, the library has secured an expert to assist with the recovery process. According to the library’s statement, the expert believes “a resolution is in sight.”

CISA claims preventative measures through training and awareness programs are the most effective defense against ransomware. Waller says once the library gets past the ransomware attack there are plans to implement training and security practices to help thwart future attack attempts.

While it’s not clear if the library will need to temporarily close again to repair affected systems, non-traditional collections such as wifi hotspots, musical instruments and telescopes cannot be checked out at this time.

July 18, 2019

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