In early 2017, St Louis Public Library was hit with Ransomware a type of malware that can encrypt computer files, promising to unlock the files if they are paid a ransom in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
“Cyber criminals are not just malicious...They’re business-
oriented and seek to cash out on their efforts.
That’s why, after testing ransomware on home users and
evaluating the impact, they moved onto bigger targets:
police departments, city councils and even schools and,
Because public institutions, manage huge databases of personal and
confidential information that cyber criminals can sell
Because these institutions ofttimes lack cyber defenses that can protect them
Because the staff is not trained to spot cyber attacks (ransomware often
leverages the human factor weakness to trigger the infection)
Because public institutions often use outdated software and equipment, which
means that their computer systems are packed with security holes just
begging to be exploited
Because ransomware has a big impact on conducting usual activities, causing
Why do ransomware creators and distributors target public institutions?
Victims are hacked by clicking on an innocuous looking attachment or website link within an email. This
releases malicious software that disables the victim’s computer system and computers on the same
Ransom notes then appear across the network demanding money paid in Bitcoin in return for a decryption
key that will disable the virus. There is no guarantee that the key will work or prevent further attacks.
St Louis Public Library Computers Inoperable
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – All computers at St. Louis
Public Library locations are inoperable. The library says
that they have been hacked and over 700 computers at
16 branches computers are being held for ransom.
"It's been a very sophisticated attack on our system,"
library executive director Waller McGuire said. "The
library is not going to pay a ransom to open up its
computers, so we didn't go that far."
According to the library, hackers demanded $35,000 in the electronic currency Bitcoin -- but the
library refuses to pay. Instead, it'll wipe the entire computer system and reset it, which could take
days or weeks. The entire checkout system is on hold. No one can walk out with any of the
library's 4 million books, magazines and videos. And all computers are frozen.
“Trust No One. Literally”
1. Keep system and antivirus patched and updated. Utilize pop-up blockers.
2. Scrutinize links contained in e-mails and do not open attachments included in
unsolicited e-mails. Software should only be downloaded from trusted sites.
3. Back up data, make sure it is not accessible by computers. Some ransomware
has the capability to lock cloud-based backups when systems continuously
back up in real-time.
4. If you discover a rogue or unknown process on your machine, disconnect it
immediately from the internet or other network connections, and shut it down.
5. Scareware impersonates AV and can be ignored, Screenlockers lock a
machine up with a full screen message, but encrypting Ransomware “is the
truly nasty stuff”.