Fixing library computers infected with ransomware could take weeks

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - A cyber attack Thursday compromised more than a thousand computers belonging to the City of St. Louis Library System in 16 of its locations throughout the city.

The threat came in the form of a ransomware. Library executive director Waller McGuire said hackers demanded that an undisclosed amount of ransom be sent via Bitcoin to a remote bank address, which is untraceable.

"It's been a very sophisticated attack on our system," McGuire said. "The library is not going to pay a ransom to open up its computers, so we didn't go that far."

"It could possibly be a misconfigured internet kiosk at the library that somehow a patron was able to download and execute and install a program," said Nestor Wheelock, South City Computer.

Wheelock said there are some steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim of ransomware.

"Back your stuff up," Wheelock said. "Be aware of what you are clicking on, put a good anti-virus on your computer, keep your computer up to date, and if you have ransomware, stop what you're doing and turn it off and bring it to a professional.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

As of late Thursday, the library system's tech team was working on getting computers back up again. Wheelock said this kind of process can take days or even weeks.