Cybersecurity snafu sends British Library back to the Dark Ages

Internet, phone lines, websites, and more went down on Saturday morning

The British Library has confirmed to The Register that a "cyber incident" is the cause of a "major" multi-day IT outage.

The social media mouthpiece for the Library began reporting issues on the morning of October 28, saying its website and services at the St Pancras site in central London, including Wi-Fi access, were affected.

The British Library said in a post to its X account that it expected the issues to persist for "the next few days."

Subsequent updates confirmed phone lines and on-site services in both St Pancras and Yorkshire were down, including the library's website, which remains inaccessible at the time of writing.

"The British Library is experiencing a major technology outage, as a result of a cyber incident," it told The Register.

"This is affecting online systems and services, our website, and on-site services including our Reading Rooms. We are investigating the incident with the support of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and cybersecurity specialists.

"We are very grateful for the support and understanding we have had from our users, staff, and partners.

"The Library's sites remain fully open to the public and details on the services that remain available can be found via @britishlibrary on X."

According to a source, the issue started at around 07:30 on October 28 and was in part due to "major issues" with its VMware ESXi servers "that have made nearly all their VMs unavailable."

We approached the British Library to confirm these reports and to elaborate on the nature of the security incident, but it has not responded.

London's famous library, home to Magna Carta, is still open to visitors but is only accepting cash payments due to its ongoing technology issues.

Its reading rooms remain open for personal study, but individuals will need to either work without internet access or use other connectivity options such as mobile hotspots.

Other services remain open but in limited capacity. Individuals can collect orders, but only those made before October 26, and there is "very limited" ordering of collection items at the St Pancras site.

"We are working to resolve these issues as a matter of urgency and will be updating users via our social media channels," it said. ®

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