Ransomware Attack Paralyzes St. Louis Libraries

Libraries in St Louis have been brought to a standstill after computers in all the city?EU?s libraries were infected with ransomware, a particularly virulent form of computer virus used to extort money from victims.

Hackers are demanding $35,000 to restore the system after the cyberattack, which affected 700 computers across the Missouri city?EU?s 16 public libraries. The hackers demanded the money in electronic currency bitcoin, but, as CNN reports, the authority has refused to pay for a code that would unlock the machines.

As a result, the library authority has said it will wipe its entire computer system and rebuild it from scratch, a solution that may take weeks.

On Friday, St. Louis public library announced it had managed to regain control of its servers, with tech staff continuing to work to restore borrowing services. The 16 libraries have all remained open, but computers continue to be off limits to the public.

Spokeswoman Jen Hatton told CNN that the attack had hit the city?EU?s schoolchildren and its poor worst, as many do not have access to the internet at home. ?EU?For many ?EU? we?EU?re their only access to the internet,?EU? she said. ?EU?Some of them have a smartphone, but they don?EU?t have a data plan. They come in and use the wifi.?EU?

As well as causing the loans system to seize up, preventing borrowers from checking out or returning books, the attack froze all computers, leaving no one able to access the four million items that should be available through the service.

The system is believed to have been infected through a centralised computer server, and staff emails have also been frozen by the virus. The FBI has been called in to investigate.

Ransomware has become increasingly popular as a weapon with which to extort money from corporations, public authorities and institutions and rich individuals. The FBI...

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