When the British Library was infected with ransomware, few could have predicted how damaging the attack would be. A month later, the Library’s IT systems are still offline – and now hackers are threatening to sell stolen personal data too.

What happened?

On 31st October, officials at the British Library reported it had fallen victim to a cyberattack. The Library took several key systems offline, including their website, to limit damage and to prevent malware spreading through their network.

Then what happened?

Three weeks later, ransomware group Rhysida admitted they had been behind the attack. They also announced that their hackers had stolen sensitive personal data during the attack.

The announcement came as Rhysida placed the data on sale, with bids starting at 20 Bitcoins (approximately $828,400 USD). Low-resolution images used to promote the auction suggest that the information has been taken from the British Library’s HR system, so may contain sensitive address and employment details.

The British Library has stated that some data has been leaked, apparently from their human resources (HR) database. They have not confirmed whether Rhysida was behind the attack, not whether the leaked information related to library personnel.

What now?

Despite happening several weeks ago, British Library IT systems are still being affected such as the organization’s website. Users are being warned to expect disruption for several months while specialists work to recover lost and damaged data.

Why does this attack matter?

The British Library is the UK’s national library, housing approximately 200 million books, journals, magazines, maps and more. The collection is one of the largest in the world, making the library an important resource for academic research. Without access to the documents held by the library, users have lost an important research resource.

Aside from issues regarding reputational damage, the cyberattack could have resulted in the theft – and exposure – of sensitive personal data. This would be a crime under UK law and could see the Library being prosecuted and fined for breaching data protection rules.

Everyone is vulnerable to ransomware

The British Library has an extensive and impressive IT system – but that has not stopped determined hackers. This incident clearly shows how any organization or individual can be attacked – and just how disruptive the effects are.

This situation also clearly underscores just how important antimalware is for everyone. A robust ransomware detection system should have been able to detect and block a malware infection earlier, helping to limit the damage caused.

To avoid a similar situation in your own home, download a free trial of Panda Dome today and help to keep ransomware away from your data.