Cyberattacks: Services taken down at British Library and Scottish council

A pair of public sector organisations have endured days of major disruption following cyberattacks and are working with the National Cyber Security Centre to investigate and recover from ‘criminal’ incidents

Two public sector bodies have endured days of disruption to services after suffering serious cyberattacks that are now being investigated by the National Cyber Security Centre.

The British Library, a government body overseen by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, first revealed on 28 October that it was “experiencing some technical issues which are affecting our website and services at [our headquarters in] St Pancras”. Several days later the organisation began describing the issues as “a major technology outage as a result of a cyber incident”.

The most recent update, published on Wednesday, said that the incident “has now been identified as a cyberattack”.

After almost two full weeks of disruption, much of the organisation’s website still remains unavailable, and outages are also being suffered other “online systems and services, as well as some onsite services including WiFi”.

“We’ve taken targeted protective measures in response to the attack to ensure the integrity of our systems,” the update, published on Wednesday, added. “We’re also undertaking a forensic investigation with the support of the National Cyber Security Centre and cybersecurity specialists.”

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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – a local authority on the outer Hebridean island of Lewis – was also hit on Tuesday by what the council describes as “a criminal cyber incident”. The organisation’s website remains offline but, in updates posted to social media, the authority said that work is taking place to try and ensure citizens can still access key services.

“Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is continuing to work with Police Scotland, Scottish Government and the National Cyber Security Centre to establish the full impact of Tuesday’s criminal cyber incident,” the authority said on X, formerly Twitter. “While investigative work continues the Comhairle’s priority in response to this incident remains to restore and secure services, ensuring their continued delivery to those in our communities who need them most. One key aspect of achieving this aim has been work on the processing of benefit and support payments. While payments have been made to the public, restrictions to file access has affected other scheduled payments. The impact to IT systems has also meant that invoices due to creditors cannot be paid at this time.”

The organisation added: “The Comhairle appreciates the impact late payments can have and is working to resolve these issues as soon as possible. The Comhairle will be in contact with the affected individuals to provide updates and support. The Comhairle’s email system is now restored, and work is ongoing to redirect numbers for key public services. A temporary website is also in development which will allow members of the public to access key information. The Comhairle’s out of hours service is functioning as normal.”

Sam Trendall

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