Cyber Attack Impacts Toronto Public Library Services

Toronto Public Library (TPL) has reported service disruptions following a cyber attack detected on Saturday. The library’s 100 branches remain open for borrowing materials, and free Wi-Fi services continue. Several digital offerings, including Kanopy for online movies, the digital archive for manuscripts and digitized books, TPL Kids content, library programs on YouTube and Crowdcast, and podcasts, are still accessible.

However, publicly available computers and printing services at the library branches are unavailable, along with users’ online accounts and the library’s digital collections.

TPL, the largest public library system in Canada and considered the largest lending library globally, stated that there is currently no evidence of personal information belonging to staff or customers being compromised. The library has taken proactive measures to address the situation, engaging third-party cybersecurity experts for assistance. However, TPL anticipates that it may take several days before all systems are fully restored to normal operations.

Cyber attacks on public libraries are not uncommon, with recent incidents including ransomware attacks on an Ohio county’s library earlier this year and an attack in Washington State that exposed personal information of 735 subscribers. In 2021, the Boston Public Library also experienced a cyber attack.

The nonprofit public library of Northampton, Pennsylvania, was hit by ransomware in 2020. Following that attack, library officials emphasized the importance of preemptive measures and robust IT practices to minimize data loss and disruption. Public libraries, often divisions of municipal governments, may not be direct targets of cyber attacks but can be impacted due to their affiliations, as some attackers hope to exert pressure or embarrassment on municipal authorities to pay ransoms.

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