European digital libraries: web security vulnerabilities

Joanne Kuzma (Worcester Business School, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Publication date: 7 September 2010



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the web vulnerability challenges at European library web sites and how these issues can affect the data protection of their patrons.


A web vulnerability testing tool was used to analyze 80 European library sites in four countries to determine how many security vulnerabilities each had and what were the most common types of problems.


Analysis results from surveying the libraries show the majority have serious security flaws in their web applications. The research shows that despite country‐specific laws mandating secure sites, system librarians have not implemented appropriate measures to secure their online information systems.

Research limitations/implications

Further research on library vulnerability throughout the world can be taken to educate librarians in other countries of the serious nature of protecting their systems.

Practical implications

The findings serve to remind librarians of the complexity in providing a secure online environment for their patrons and that a disregard or lack of awareness of securing systems could lead to serious vulnerabilities of the patrons' personal data and systems. Lack of consumer trust may result in a decreased use of online commerce and have serious repercussions for the municipal libraries. Several concrete examples of methods to improve security are provided.


The paper serves as a current paper on data security issues at Western European municipal library web sites. It serves as a useful summary regarding technical and managerial measures librarians can take to mitigate inadequacies in their security implementation.



Kuzma, J. (2010), "European digital libraries: web security vulnerabilities", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 402-413.

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