California library IT systems go dark weeks after ransomware attack

Weeks after a ransomware attack that hit the Solano County, California, public library system, disruptions have cropped up again, downing phones, Wi-Fi and some virtual services.
ransomware skull
(Getty Images)

The public library computer systems in Solano County, California — which sits between Sacramento and San Francisco — continued to experience disruptions on Monday after suspicious network activity administrators noticed last week.

An announcement on the website of Solano Partner Libraries and St. Helena network, also known as SPLASH, announced Monday that its Wi-Fi service, phone lines and computer services are down at all locations and that virtual programs are canceled. County Chief Information Officer Tim Flanagan told StateScoop his office discovered unexpected activity on the library’s IT network on Friday.

“Upon learning of the activity, we responded quickly to confirm the security of our systems and to work toward restoring full functionality as soon as possible,” Flanagan said.

By Saturday, the St. Helena public library was open to patrons with its Wi-Fi, computers and phones working normally, but it appears the library system’s network still struggles with disruptions.


County officials have not disclosed whether the disruption is linked to a ransomware attack that hit SPLASH on April 5. During that attack, hackers breached the county library network, which uses a cloud storage system separate from the rest of Solano County, and threatened to release stolen data unless the county paid a $100,000 ransom.

Flanagan said the Solano County library system does not store financial information, though an ongoing investigation has not yet determined if any other personal information has been compromised.

“We are working with third-party computer specialists to investigate the source of this activity and to confirm any impact on our systems,” said Flanagan, who added that his office is conducting a separate investigation to understand the scope of the incident. “We are monitoring for related unexpected activity elsewhere in the network and at this time we have no evidence that the activity is occurring anywhere other than within library systems.”

The Northern California county has a population of about 450,000 and includes cities near the San Francisco Bay Area, including Fairfield, Vallejo, Dixon and Benicia.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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