Identity of Seattle Public Library Cyber Attackers Still Undisclosed

Five days since an alleged ransomware attack hit the Seattle Public Library, authorities have yet to disclose key details, including who was behind the attack.

Identity of Seattle Public Library Cyber Attackers Still Undisclosed
Photo of the Seattle Public Library, Central Library location, taken from Instagram

May 30, 2024 – The Seattle Public Library has been reopening its operations after its servers were allegedly overtaken by ransomware on Saturday, May 25. However, no information has been released regarding the perpetrators, their demands or how they penetrated the servers.

Laura Gentry, the library’s head of communications, said she was unable to give further details on the attack because the episode was under investigation.

According to the SPL’s Shelf Talk blog written by Gentry, the attack took place in the early hours of the morning, just a day before the servers were scheduled to be taken offline for a maintenance check. The cyberattack became known to library workers as access to SPL’s public and staff computers, loaning system, website and in-house Wi-Fi became disrupted.

Once the extent of the attack was discovered, SPL officials shut down the computer system. Law enforcement and third-party forensic specialists were brought in to investigate. 

The servers remain offline and under review and will not return until properly secured. SPL officials have stated they are working to fully restore e-books, computers, printing, Wi-Fi and other in-house features. In the meantime, all 27 library locations remain open, lending print books and other physical material.

As of Wednesday, May 29, the library's website was back online, and users can navigate the event calendar as well as some other digital services.

Cyber-attacks on educational institutions have been a growing concern for the Federal Communications Commission. Last November the FCC proposed the Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program, an initiative to fund cyber security for eligible schools and libraries.

In a statement, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel warned of the ramifications of cyber-attacks on education.

“Cyberattacks can undermine the connectivity that schools and libraries count on day-in and day- out,” Rosenworcel said.

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