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Whatcom County Library System reports email and phone systems “have been compromised”

Ferndale Public Library interior (December 3, 2016). Photo: Whatcom News

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Officials with the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) announced yesterday, June 27th, that they “discovered that WCLS email and phone servers have been compromised by an outside organization.”

The following statement was posted on the WCLS website.

Alert: Monday, June 27, 2022

UPDATE 5:24 P.M.: Printers are not available in our libraries at this time.

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We have discovered that WCLS email and phone servers have been compromised by an outside organization. We suspect malware but our investigation is ongoing. This is a serious and criminal matter and we are doing all we can to address it. Right now, our understanding is that this primarily impacts staff operations. Public-facing library services remain available (website, Bibliocommons, in-person browsing and checkout) although the public will not be able to reach us via phone or email.

At this point, we do not know the full impact, but will keep you informed as we learn more. Our priority is on keeping libraries open with the ability to check out materials. Summer Reading Kickoff parties and the Everson Library Remodel Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony will occur on schedule Monday and the rest of the week. We thank our IT Services team for working around the clock to quickly address this major issue.

This is a rapidly evolving situation. We will be posting updates to this webpage as we learn more. Here’s what we know as of Sunday, 6/26 at 9 p.m.:

1) Patron data in the online catalog is secure. Polaris and BiblioCommons, the products we use for library transactions, are not hosted by WCLS. They are separate, independent services that do not interact with WCLS servers. WCLS does not collect social security numbers or credit card information.

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2) WCLS will not have phone service until a new server can be brought online. We will be letting the public know that phone service is unavailable via our website, social media and a news release to local media.

3) WCLS staff will not have Outlook email or calendar until a new server can be brought online. We do not currently have a way to notify people who may be trying to reach library staff via email that our server is down. We also do not have a way for staff to access their calendars.

4) We will not be accepting cash payments until our Accounting Department is back online. Staff may override blocks to allow patrons with charges to check out. You can also use BiblioCommons to pay via credit card.

5) The following digital resources are not accessible at this time as they require ezproxy authentication and our ezproxy server is currently offline as part of our security review:

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Britannica Library
Chilton Library
Consumer Reports
Creative Bug (unless you are using the app)
Freegal (unless you are using the app)
All Gale products
HeritageQuest Online
Mango Languages (unless you are using the app)
Newsbank
NoveList
Peterson’s Test Prep
ProQuest CultureGrams
Reference Solutions
ValueLine Investment Research

NOTE:
LinkedInLearning DOES allow patrons to log in to their accounts
Washington Anytime Library and Libby also DO allow patron access

Check back here (www.wcls.org/patronupdates) for the latest information.

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