The British Library is currently dealing with the aftermath of a cyber attack that began in late October and has severely impacted the library’s website. As a result of the attack, large portions of the website have been taken offline for weeks, causing disruption to the library’s operations.
The cyber attack has forced staff at the archive’s St Pancras site to accept only cash payments, and the public Wi-Fi has also been taken down. In a statement released on Monday, the British Library confirmed that the attack was a ransomware attack, and it was discovered that some data, particularly internal HR files, were leaked. However, the library assured the public that there is no evidence to suggest that user data has been compromised.
The library has been actively working to address the situation by collaborating with the Metropolitan Police and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to investigate the attack and reinforce its IT systems. Sir Roly Keating, the chief executive of the British Library, expressed gratitude for the patience and support shown by users and partners as they work to analyze the impact of the attack and restore online systems in a safe and sustainable manner.
The ransomware virus, known as Rhysida, first appeared in May 2023 according to cyber security firm Secureworks. The group behind the attack is suspected to be the same responsible for other cyber attacks under the name Vice Society, targeting schools and healthcare institutions. The Chilean military and the University of the West of Scotland have also fallen victim to attacks by Vice Society.
The group Vice Society was also implicated in a series of cyber attacks on over a dozen UK schools, where passport scans were stolen. Some cyber security experts have suggested that Vice Society may be a Russian-speaking gang, based on the pattern and techniques observed in the attacks.
The NCSC has issued a warning about the ongoing threat of ransomware, highlighting its potential to cause severe disruption to a company’s IT systems. They have identified ransomware as one of the greatest threats to Britain’s national infrastructure due to its potentially crippling effects.
The British Library is currently working to investigate the full extent of the attack and assessing the necessary steps to restore its online systems. The incident serves as a reminder of the persistent and evolving threat posed by cyber attacks, with ransomware being a particularly disruptive and damaging form of cyber threat.