The UK’s biggest library faced a massive cyber attack that took the entire collection offline.
The British Library’s catalogue has finally returned online after a cyber attack in late last year took out one of the world’s biggest libraries.
Based in London, the British Library is estimated to house around 200 million items from around the world. It is the UK’s national library and one of the major research resources for the country. However, on 31 October last year, the library was hacked.
As a result of the hack, the British Library website went down for almost the entirety of November. During that month, the hackers released library data, including personal data, to the dark web in an attempt to auction it off.
The cyber criminal ransomware gang Rhysida has claimed responsibility for the attack. Rhysida is believed to be a Russian-based gang.
While the results of the attack were hugely concerning for the library – which remains a crime scene – chief executive Sir Roly Keating confirmed that plans to bring the service back online would continue.
“I’m pleased to confirm that – as promised before Christmas,” Keating wrote, “Monday 15 January will see the return online of one of the most important datasets for researchers around the world: the main British Library catalogue”.
The catalogue is currently available in “read-only” format. If all goes according to plan, the library will also make the special collections available this week. That includes “archives, manuscripts and other unique items” that has for the time being only been available to on-site visitors.
Keating has also promised that the library’s annual payments to authors whose work is available for public lending, will be made by the statutory deadline in March. Many authors have been concerned that this form of income could be lost due to the result of the cyber attack.
Around 20,000 authors receive an annual fee of up to £6,600 (€7,660) for the public lending of their books.
In total, the cost of the attacks to the library is estimated to be as high as £7 million (€8.1 million), a figure that will be taken from the institution’s unallocated reserves.
Speaking about the attackers and ransoms, Keating told the BBC that “good custom and practice is never to pay money to criminals, and as a great public institution of international standing that’s an easy decision to make”.