Hackers Disable Public Library and Demand Bitcoins

Book borrowing and internet at St. Louis library have been shut down

Last Thursday, library staff in St. Louis, Missouri were befuddled to find their computer system had been compromised by one of the most egregious strains of internet viruses — ransomware. According to The Guardian, the hackers demanded the public library system cough up $35,000 by way of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. CNN reported that the library authority and the FBI refuse to negotiate with criminals, and have instead opted to construct an entirely new computer system from scratch. It may take weeks for the 16 libraries that are affected to be fully functional. As it stands, the city’s patrons cannot check out the 4 million title offerings, and the 700 computers are unusable.

Luckily, the public library system took back control of its servers on Friday, and is able to provide onsite services for local residents. In an official statement, PR spokeswoman Jen Hatton noted how the true victims of this hack are the poorer residents of the city: “For many of our patrons, we’re their only access to the internet. This is their only access to a computer. Some of them have a smartphone, but they don’t have a data plan. They come in and use the WiFi.”

It seems that in 2017, no entity is safe from hacking, whether it be libraries or, you know, democratic elections. These are dangerous times to be a reader.

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