British Library calls in National Cyber Security Centre over ‘power outage’ 

Major UK institution hit by ‘major technology outage’ as result of ‘cyber incident’ affecting website, online systems and services. 

Since last week, the British Library has been subject of a significant ‘outage’ affecting all technological services, including its website, phone lines and services on site in both London and Yorkshire.

The British Library in London

Photo by Steve Cadman

On Saturday, October 28, the library warned visitors that due to ‘technical issues’, access to collections would be limited and the public WiFi was down, though reading rooms remained accessible for personal study and the new exhibition Our Fantasy would open as normal. 

The following day, it reported that there was no access at all to collections or the library’s digital catalogue, and reader registration was also not available for the time being. Among other systems affected are those used by the Public Lending Right (PLR), where authors receive some payment when their books are loaned out by libraries across the UK. Authors are, at present, unable to register new books on their accounts and new authors cannot be registered. 

On October 31, the British Library issued an additional statement. The continuing ‘technology outage’ is ‘affecting our website, online systems and services, and some onsite services including public WiFi,’ it said. What’s more, ‘any collection items ordered on or before 26 October’, might be affected – suggesting the issues dates back as much as a week. 

More seriously, the British Library is ‘currently investigating the incident’ with not only the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) but also ‘other specialists’. 

As we reported earlier this year, the NCSC has warned of increased threats to critical national infrastructure, particularly from state-aligned groups sympathetic to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Following that warning, in August news emerged of a sophisticated, long-term cyber-attack on the Electoral Commission. Is that what has happened to the British Library this week? 

At present, we have only the formal statement from the British Library, which concludes: ‘We know that you may have questions, but please bear with us while we gather more information. We’ll update as regularly as we can.’ 

Infotec has asked the British Library for further details of what’s happened – and what is being done in response. We will monitor this unfolding story.

In related news:

100% electric mobile library in Cheshire West

Interview: Rachel Van Riel and Ask For A Book

£1.7m to transform Welsh libraries and museums

Simon Guerrier
Writer and journalist for Infotec, Social Care Today and Air Quality News


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top