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Ashland library falls victim to computer hacking

ASHLAND, Maine — The computer system at the Ashland Community Library appears to have fallen victim to a hacking and scam.

When a library custodian was cleaning the building Saturday, the main computer “started talking to her,” said librarian Cindy Morton.

When Morton saw the computer, which had been turned off, it became clear that the library’s computer system was likely hacked.

Messages appearing on the computer told Morton that “it was hacked and if I called this number, they could fix it for me,” Morton recounted Monday morning.

The messages, claiming to be from Microsoft, said the computer’s system was wiped clean, but that it could be restored and protected for five years for a payment of $400, the librarian said.

Morton said she reported the issue to the Maine School and Library Network, which helps libraries manage their computer systems, and technology personnel are investigating.

“My system is working, but they have access to my computer,” Morton said of the hackers.

The hacking seems to be a scam targeting computer users under the guise of tech support.

The message seeking $400 “wasn’t worded like a ransom, but it sure seems that way,” Morton said.

The hacking is surprising for Morton.

“We have all the safeguards we’re supposed to have,” she said. Small community libraries like Ashland’s also don’t have a lot of money that would attract hackers, she added.

“It’s not like we have a big budget that they could get.”

As of Monday morning, the library’s wifi system was working, “but it’s likely the hackers can see everything we do,” Morton said.

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