British Library ransomware update 

Major UK institution continues to reel from massive cyber-attack that affects its website, online systems and services, and some on-site services, too. 

It’s now more than a fortnight since the British Library announced it had suffered a ‘major technology outage’, with no access at all to its digital catalogue or reader registration, and no public WiFi. Investigations were ongoing, working with both the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and ‘other specialists’.

The British Library in London

Photo by Steve Cadman

More is now emerging about what’s happened – and the long-term impact. ‘We have now confirmed that this was a ransomware attack by a group known for such criminal activity,’ said an official statement from the British Library. A ‘forensic investigation’ us being undertaken, ‘with the support of NCSC, the Metropolitan Police and cybersecurity specialists.’ 

Ransomware locks or encrypts access to a users data, usually as a means for criminals to extort payment from the victim. For more information see NCSCs guide to ransomware.

As we reported earlier this year, NCSC has warned of increased threats to critical national infrastructure. Following that warning, in August news emerged of a sophisticated, long-term cyber-attack on the Electoral Commission. 

In response to this recent attack on the British Library, a number of ‘targeted protective measures’ have already been taken to ‘ensure the integrity of our systems’, says the latest statement. It is hoped that many services will be restored over the next few weeks, but the British Library warns that there may continue to be some disruption beyond this. 

In the meantime, the library’s buildings remain fully open, including reading rooms with limited access to the collections by manual, paper-based requests. Reader registration is currently being run on the basis of temporary passes. On-site cafes, restaurants and shops remain open, accepting both card and cash payments, and the library’s online shop is also running. The new exhibition, Fantasy: Realms of Imagination is also open. For further details of available services, see the British Library’s cyber incident update page. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top