May 21st, 2024

Hacker breaches B.C. libraries and demands ransom after taking emails, phone numbers

By The Canadian Press on May 3, 2024.

B.C. libraries have been targeted by a hacker who demanded a ransom or they would release user data that includes the phone numbers and email addresses of some users. A man uses a computer keyboard in Toronto in this Sunday, Oct. 9, 2023, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

CARIBOO, B.C. – B.C. libraries have been targeted by a hacker who demanded a ransom or they would release user data that includes the phone numbers and email addresses of some clients.

The Cariboo Regional District says its library was among those involved, and data was obtained about users who received automated notifications from the library between March 27 and April 19.

It says it was informed of the breach last week by the BC Libraries Cooperative that provides integrated library systems for multiple institutions, and several library networks had been affected.

The co-operative says in a statement dated Monday that on April 19 it was contacted by a hacker “attempting to extort payment” for data they had taken from its servers, and threatening to release that information publicly if the co-operative didn’t pay.

The hack is the latest in a series of cybersecurity incidents, including a breach that has shut down London Drugs stores since Sunday, and attacks on other libraries including the Toronto Public Library last October.

The BC Libraries Cooperative says “minimal data” from its email server was obtained.

“Regardless of any limitations on data breached, we regret this breach happening at all,” the co-operative statement says.

Cariboo Regional District said the co-operative could not provide a list of the affected emails, so it had reached out indirectly to library users through a notice on its website.

It says the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner will also be notified of the breach.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2024.

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