Archives Security in the Cyberage

SAA Security Section member Jim Havron pointed us to two recent articles about a facet of security that we don’t often think about, but could have massive implications for archives and special collections libraries – cybersecurity.

The first, from Security Week, notes that simply running out-of-date software puts a wide variety of firms, including archives and similar cultural heritage institutions, at risk of a data breach. And many of us, upwards of 50% according to the article, are running software that is not up-to-date. A simple fix of updating software is a great first step in securing your electronic assets.

Havron noted in his correspondence that more and more “non-computer” technologies are integrated into the internet of things and one must be aware of the fact that the unpatched software of fire alarms, electronic locks, and other security technology could render those items vulnerable to an attack. As he asked rhetorically, “does your institution have controlled access or fire alarms as part of its security?”

A second article, from info security, mentions the threat of ransomware attacks sent through e-mail. As Havron noted is his correspondence, “It isn’t just for ‘digital archivists’ or ‘electronic records’ anymore. Access points on the first Wannacry attack [the massive ransomware attack in May 2017 that infected over 230,000 computers] included security cameras, refrigerators, baby monitors, and thermostats. If you have any of these things (e.g. environmental controls), there is risk.”

When thinking about security at your institution, it isn’t only about keeping thieves from pilfering dog tags or returning old manuscripts to their rightful owner, it is also about protecting all of your electronic assets from the wide array of cyber threats that exist. If you have any specific questions for Jim Havron about cyber security in archives and cultural heritage institutions, feel free to e-mail him: havron@cyberculturalheritage.com.

Historian Caught Stealing Dog Tags from National Archives

Historian Antonin DeHays was charged in Federal court this week with stealing dog tags of deceased WWII veterans from the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. He sold many of the dog tags on eBay. He even passed off a stolen dog tag that belonged to a Tuskegee Airman as being from his personal collection and donated it to the Military Aviation Museum in exchange for a chance to sit in the cockpit of a Spitfire airplane.

Two weeks after DeHays visited the National Archives at College Park on May 12 this year, staff discovered that dozens of dog tags were missing from the box DeHays had looked at for nearly a half-hour earlier in the month. On June 9, investigators executed a search warrant at his home and found six dog tags along with other documents that belonged to the National Archives.

If convicted, DeHays faces up to ten years in prison for his crimes.

You can find the official U.S. Department of Justice press release about this case here and you can read more about this story from the Washington Post. For more about the NARA Archival Recovery Program, follow their Facebook page.

Security expert Steve Albrecht tackles “New Trends in Library Security” in recent ALA feature article.

In his article posted on 1 June 2017, security consultant and trainer Steve Albrecht discusses new challenges facing many libraries, including special collections.   Issues include vaping, religious rights questions, heroin overdoses and Narcan training, service animals, concealed weapons, and advice for updating codes of conduct.

https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/06/01/new-trends-library-security/

 

Crimes Against Cultural Heritage Objects in the News

Recently, there have been three stories in the news that are of interest to those in the world of archives, libraries, museums, and related cultural institutions. They all touch on different aspects of security related to objects of enduring cultural value. All of these stories have appeared on the artnet news website (www.news.artnet.com) in the past week.

The first topic is the loss of cultural heritage during times of war. Alyssa Buffenstein at artnet chronicles the multitude of losses throughout Iraq and Syria attributed to ISIS. She provides details and links about the crimes committed against the ten certified cultural heritage cites in these countries. She also provide links to more information about the Alliance for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Zones of Conflict (ALIPH). The group, led by France and the United Arab Emirates, was founded in March and has so far raised $75.5 million from seven countries and an American Philanthropist for the protection of cultural heritage throughout the world.

The second topic is the forgery of cultural heritage objects. Simon Parkin at the Guardian wrote about a very interesting interview with Shaun Greenhalgh, an art forger who was arrested in 2006 and served four year in prison for his crimes. During his time in prison, Greenhalgh decided to write about his life as a way to keep himself so busy that other prisoners would not be able to ask him to do drawings for them. His writings have since become a book, A Forger’s Tale. In his book, Greenhalgh explains how he got into the business and how, since his release from prison, he has found a niche for himself legitimately reproducing masterpieces for television and other displays.

The final topic is the teaming up of scholars, cultural heritage institutions, and the police to catch criminals. An academic at Lund University in Sweden purchased a sixteenth-century Italian prayer book online. When he received the book, he found an ink stamp of the Royal Library of Turin on one of the pages. He contacted the Italian embassy in Sweden about this anomaly and after an investigation, the Italian Carabinieri art crimes squad found a book dealer in Turin involved in a crime ring specializing in the trade of books and artworks stolen from institutions throughout Italy.

Beyond this investigation, the Italian Carabinieri announced this week that they have recovered millions of dollars worth of paintings found in one villa near Turin. It was also announced that $100,000 worth of illegitimately exported artifacts were returned from a Manhattan Gallery back to Italy this past week. Since 2016, authorities in Turin have cracked down on the illicit trade in cultural heritage objects leading to the sequestration of 3,470 items. You can find more about the work of the Italian Carabinieri to protect cultural heritage in the Telegraph or on the artnet news site.