Public computers remain closed off at the Hamilton Public Library failing a City of Hamilton cybersecurity failure. Credit: Joey Coleman

The Hamilton Public Library (HPL) Board’s mid-March meeting included the HPL’s first public update since the library’s computer systems were shut down due to the City of Hamilton’s cybersecurity failure.

Most of the discussion was held in closed session.

“We’ve been under some clear directions from the City around this cyber incident and really encouraged us not to disclose details,  as the threat is ongoing,” Chief Librarian Paul Takala stated on March 20.

Takala stated both the City’s systems and the Library’s systems were targetted.

“In this case, the City of Hamilton, the municipality that we’re in an entity of, we’re also attacked.  They’ve really been taking the lead in terms of restoring this.”

The HPL’s computer systems were fully integrated within the City of Hamilton computer network – an unusual setup. Other large libraries operate their systems.

The City of Hamilton network lacked separations between functions, resulting in the shutdown of everything from fire computer dispatch, fire response digital maps, bus next-stop announcements, the library’s wifi next work, the Farmers’ Market door not opening due to daylight savings time switch — basically everything the City uses computers for.

Hamilton’s public library is not able to process “holds” to the a cybersecurity failure by the City of Hamilton

Daylight Savings Time Switch Caused New Problems

“We are having some challenges with our key scan system that lets us in our doors. What happened, it was working fine, but it’s basically in an offline mode,” Takala told the Board. “When the Daylight Savings Time, kicked in … the system still thinks we’re not on Daylight Savings times.”

“We’ve had to have some workarounds to make sure people can get into the library”

Library Payroll Challenges

The City of Hamilton is manually processing employee pay. This means some HPL employees will have to wait for overtime pay or premiums for working in different roles.

Library Will “Need to Change Network Environment”

Takala says the City’s cyber-security insurance covers the costs of responding to the cyber-security incident.

“A lot of the costs associated with this are covered by the cyber insurance. So there’s a lot of extra technical help and things like that that are covered,” he told the Board.

The Chief Librarian said, “There are going to be some needed changes to our network environment, going forward, that will have some costs, and we don’t know exactly what those are right now.”

The Library Board will have to make unplanned expenditures to make these upgrades.

Closed Session Discussion Followed

The Library Board praised library staff for their work responding to the cybersecurity incident and maintaining many library services.

They went into closed session following this.

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Published: April 14, 2024
Last edited: April 14, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
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