Steerpike Steerpike

British Library left counting the cost of cyber-attack

The British Library (Credit: Getty images)

In most countries, it would be a major scandal if foreign hackers successfully mounted a major cyber-attack on the national library. Unfortunately, the UK does not seem to be one of them. On 28 October, the British Library suffered a major incident which has brought the venerable body to its knees. Yet you would scarcely know that one of the largest such institutions had been crippled, judging by the rather-muted response in parliament and beyond.

Still, Mr S has done his part to shine a light on this unedifying episode, firing off Freedom of Information (FOI) requests at every turn. Initially staff told Steerpike that ‘we will not be in a position to action or respond to your request until our systems have been fully restored’. Happily though, the systems have since recovered somewhat. For the costs incurred to date for the Library as a direct result of the cyber-attack in the first ten weeks after 28 October was £155,227.

According to the British Library, this ‘figure includes costs associated with professional services engaged by the Library, along with hardware and other miscellaneous costs such as consumables and other equipment.’ Given that it’s now been more than a month since Mr S submitted his FOI request, those costs are only likely to have risen.

Sadly, Steerpike’s question as to how many attempted attacks have been mounted on the Library in the past decade remains unanswered as ‘the systems that we would need to interrogate to identify any relevant information remain off-line at the present time.’

Four months and counting…

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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