In a stark reminder of the persistent threat of cybercrime, the British Library has confirmed a data breach incident that has led to the exposure of sensitive personal data, with materials purportedly up for auction online. An October intrusion by a notorious cybercrime group targeted the library, which is home to an extensive collection, including over 14 million books.
Recently, the ransomware group Rhysida claimed responsibility, publicly displaying snippets of sensitive data, and announcing the sale of this information for a significant sum of around £600k to be paid in cryptocurrency.
While the group boasts about the data’s exclusivity and sets a firm bidding deadline (today 27th November 2023), the library has only acknowledged a leak of what seems to be internal human resources documents. It has not verified the identity of the attackers nor the authenticity of the sale items. The cyber attack has significantly disrupted the library’s operations, leading to service interruptions expected to span several months.
In response, the library has strengthened its digital defenses, sought expert cybersecurity assistance, and urged its patrons to update their login credentials as a protective measure. The library is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre and law enforcement to investigate, but details remain confidential due to the ongoing inquiry.
The consequences of the attack have necessitated a temporary shutdown of the library’s online presence. Physical locations, however, remain accessible. Updates can be found the British Library’s X (née twitter) feed. The risk posed by Rhysida has drawn attention from international agencies, with recent advisories from the FBI and US cybersecurity authorities. The group has been active globally, with attacks on various sectors and institutions.
The British Library’s leadership has expressed appreciation for the support and patience from its community as it navigates the aftermath of the cyber attack.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
A ransomware attack is a type of malicious cyber operation where hackers infiltrate a computer system to encrypt data, effectively locking out the rightful users. The attackers then demand payment, often in cryptocurrency, for the decryption key. These attacks can paralyse organisations, leading to significant data loss and disruption of operations.
Who is Rhysida?
The Rhysida ransomware group first came to the fore in May of 2023, following the emergence of their victim support chat portal hosted via the TOR browser. The group identifies as a “cybersecurity team” who highlight security flaws by targeting victims’ systems and spotlighting the supposed potential ramifications of the involved security issues.
How to prevent a Ransomware Attack?
Hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated in ways they target our personal data. We have seen this with banking scams recently. However there are some measures we can implement personally and within our organisations to prevent a ransomware attack.
- Avoid Unverified Links: Refrain from clicking on links in spam emails or unfamiliar websites. Hackers frequently disseminate ransomware via such links, which, when clicked, can initiate the download of malware. This malware can then encrypt your data and hold it for ransom.
- Safeguard Personal Information: It’s crucial to never disclose personal information such as addresses, NI numbers, login details, or banking information online, especially in response to unsolicited communications.
- Educate Employees: Increasing awareness among employees can be a strong defence. Training should focus on identifying and handling suspicious emails, attachments, and links. Additionally, having a contingency plan in the event of a ransomware infection is important.
- Implement a Firewall: A robust firewall can act as a first line of defence, monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic for threats and signs of malicious activity. This should be complemented with proactive measures such as threat hunting and active tagging of workloads.
- Regular Backups: Maintain up-to-date backups of all critical data. In the event of a ransomware attack, having these backups means you can restore your systems to a previous, unencrypted state without having to consider ransom demands.
- Create Inventories of Assets and Data: Having inventories of the data and assets you hold allows you to have an immediate knowledge of what has been compromised in the event of an attack whilst also allowing you to update security protocols for sensitive data over time.
- Multi-Factor Authentication: Identifying legitimate users in more than one way ensures that you are only granting access to those intended.
These are some strategies organisations can use as part of a more comprehensive cybersecurity protocol which will significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack.
Join us on our workshop “How to increase Cyber Security in your Organisation” and Cyber Security for DPO’s where we discuss all of the above and more helping you create the right foundations for Cyber resilience within your organisation.