Internet shutdown reaches BHC Library

Literary Junction
Thursday, January 10, 2019

Last week, we had a bit of a scare at the Big Horn County Library.

First, all the computers suddenly went offline and wouldn’t work. This required us to get in touch with our IT folks in Billings, and they had to go to each computer and remotely do whatever was needed to get them back up and running. This took about 90 minutes and it was really just more of an inconvenience than anything.

The next day, we had another scare in the form of a complete Internet shutdown. This isn’t news to anyone because, as I understand it, this affected much of the country. We were pretty much dead in the water for the rest of that day, though. The program we use for checking out items is web-based and, consequently, we were unable to check out items to anyone. We got around this by writing down the account number for individuals then the number on the item they wanted to check out. We then entered everything the next day when the problem was fixed.

There was an article in last week’s paper about the cause of the shutdown and I won’t go into what happened to cause it, not that I could explain it to anyone since I don’t really understand it myself. This whole snafu didn’t just cause us problems, though. Local stores who use a web-based program for their cash registers were unable to take checks, credit cards, debit cards and so on. I had to go home and rob my piggy bank, then pay for milk with quarters.

This whole thing only lasted the one night and we made it through all right. It certainly drove the point home, however, just how dependent we all are on the Internet. If someone knew what they were doing and wanted to cause all kinds of trouble that is definitely one place they could do it. It was kind of a scary feeling.

I then started thinking about all the personal information on the net for each of us. Bank accounts, social security numbers, you name it. All of it can be found on the web and if we are not careful with our own information, we could cause ourselves loads of misery. People come into the Big Horn County Library and are sometimes very lax about protecting their personal information. We are not supposed to do anything for a patron that involves their personal information for that very reason. I once helped a man who was just about to put his social security number onto a loan request. I told him not to do it and it turned out that the loan was for a few hundred dollars, but the interest rate was such that he would have had to pay back more than $5,000 and it had to be paid back within a year.

We at the Big Horn County Library would like to take a moment to encourage all of you to be careful with your personal information on the web. Do whatever you need to ensure you are protected from Internet scams or worse.