Spartanburg Co. library system refuses to pay ransomware

Ransomware holding cyber information hostage affecting all Spartanburg County Libraries.
Ransomware holding cyber information hostage affecting all Spartanburg County Libraries.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — Spartanburg County Public Libraries shut down their computer system after hackers seized information earlier this week.

Access to the libraries’ computers and wireless devices has been disabled afters hackers demanded money to release the information. The cyber hit held information hostage by shutting down systems, disrupting Internet access and checking out books.

Eric Ruppe, a frequent library patron says, “I was surprised and kind of sad for the library because it’s a public service. Now people can’t check out books, we don’t have WIFI here.”

On Monday, the I.T. department noticed half of their 23 servers encrypted with ransomware.

“We immediately began shutting down computers – everything from desktops to servers, to public access to computers we use for book check out circulation,” Spartanburg County Librarian Todd Stephens said.

Hackers demanded 3.6 to 3.8 bitcoin – roughly $35,000 – to release the information. But officials are not bowing to the hackers’ demands, instead they are using a back-up system to restore information.

“Our folks are taking the methodical approach of going thru each server accessing damage, scrubbing it clean and reloading information,” Stephens said.

Patrons’ credit and debit card information is protected by a third-party service on computers not connected to the libraries’ system. The only information hackers have access to are names and addresses.

As of Wednesday afternoon, library staffers were using pencil and paper to check out books.

Library officials say that although they’re comfortable with the safeguards currently in place, they’ll make the necessary adjustments to keep this from happening again.