Officials at the National Records of Scotland have temporarily suspended a genealogy service following the discovery of ransomware in an admin file.
Anne Slater, speaking on behalf of the National Records, told the BBC that the ScotlandsPeople search rooms have been closed to the public since Wednesday, March 23.
"It's a ransomware virus. It comes in and tries to lock up your files and then you have to give them money," she said. "It was noticed in a file. I believe it was a spreadsheet--an administration file. "
The service is normally used by people looking to research their family tree. It provides public access to photographs of birth records less than 100 years old, marriage records less than 75 years old, and death records less than 50 years old.
All of those pieces of information can only be viewed in person at the office and not online.
A Scottish Government spokesman explained that the ScotlandsPeople website currently suffers from technical glitches but is still available, as are copies of birth certificates via other search rooms.
The ScotlandsPeople search rooms will remain unavailable through Thursday. Even so, the Daily Records reports that an investigation into the incident "quickly and completely contained" the problem before it could cause any damage and that service could resume as early as Friday.
At this time, it is unclear how the ransomware infected the admin file. A regular user of the National Records heard that a member of the public allegedly opened an infected email attachment at a terminal in one of the search rooms, but that story has yet to be confirmed.
Malicious email attachments pose a risk to all organizations. That is why businesses need to invest in educating their employees about phishing attacks and other threats.