Not since the British burned the Library of Congress to the ground in the War of 1812 has there been a more devastating attack on the famous library. Only this time, the recent attack was of the digital variety and King George III had nothing to do with it.
The attack was launched on July 17th by a hacking group calling themselves the Turk Hack Team. The group used a DDoS attack to shut down the Library of Congress website and hosted systems, including Congress.gov, the Copyright Office, Congressional Research Service, and other sites.
What makes this attack so sobering is that it could have been prevented if the Library's IT systems were properly managed and updated. This revelation caused a shakeup of the Library’s leadership, along with a call from government officials for an overhaul of the Library’s outdated IT systems. Until these updates are completed, those who rely on the Library of Congress to gather crucial information may find themselves stuck with an inefficient system.
Looking all the way back to 2002, the Library of Congress has a reputation for the chronic mismanagement of its IT systems, which includes the mishandling of contractors and the miscalculation of IT budgets. Much of the blame lies with the library's leadership, a head librarian of 28 years who showed patterns of resisting the latest IT solutions. The librarian’s anti-technology attitude was even seen on a personal level as they refused to use email.
This mismanagement of the library's IT is no secret around Washington DC. In a 2015 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the library’s infrastructure and demanded that they hire permanent employees to oversee their IT systems, which comes with a budget of $120 million. To give you a window into the library's mismanagement, consider the fact that, in the library’s report filed to the GAO, they claimed to have had less than 6,500 computers in their possession, yet the GAO found the actual number to be closer to 18,000.
In another telling example of the Library’s technology woes, it was found that another government department overseen by the Library of Congress, the Copyright Office, still has many of its important records card-catalogued. While the library’s paper-based card catalogue may be safe from foreign hackers, it’s certainly an inefficient way to run a major institution.
Businesses that don’t prioritize in updating and maintaining their IT infrastructure can learn a lot from this major data breach. Hackers are first and foremost looking for organizations with outdated IT systems. Companies that fit this bill are considered easy targets, or “low-hanging fruit.” Alternatively, businesses that implement current IT solutions, update their systems, and make network security a priority will be passed over by hackers like yesterday’s jam. To get this kind of protection and oversight for your business, call Washington Works today at 301-571-5040.
Washington Works has been serving the Bethesda area since 2005, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.
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