Librarians complained on Facebook yesterday that they couldn’t get into the Library of Congress Web site. I tried LoC myself just now. No luck. And here’s the reason. A DNS attack from an unknown source began July 17 and apparently is still happening. It’s crippled not only LoC, including the Copyright Office, but also Congress.gov.
LoC has been criticized for technological backwardness, including in the security area, but within the federal government the problem really goes beyond the library itself, as indicated by last year’s breach of the personal data of four million federal workers. We really really need to get more serious about cybersecurity, and, yes, there’s an ebook angle here. Hackers in the future could compromise the integrity of books and many other kinds of items. This could happen not just at LoC but also at institutions to which it or the Digital Public Library of America or other library organizations may link. DNS attacks are trivial compared to these other possibilities.
The above is all the more reason for the creation of two full-strength national digital library systems (one public, one academic, intertwined) with a coherent vision covering security and other essentials. Potential adversaries don’t just hate Americans as people. They typical hate our culture as well. Let’s get more serious about protecting it.
Same idea, of course, applies to other countries. I suspect that national digital libraries outside the U.S. have their own share of security vulnerabilities.
Photo credit: Here.