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Baltimore still refuses to pay hackers who hit city with ransomware

The city's mayor says it could be months before all systems are restored.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on May 22, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 12:04 pm CDT

More than two weeks after the incident began, the city of Baltimore is refusing to pay hackers who infected government-owned computers with ransomware.

The hackers, who took control of roughly 10,000 government computers on May 7, have threatened to wipe the city’s servers unless they are paid 13 bitcoin ($103,749.49).

Ransomware—in this case, a strain known as RobbinHood—locks a user’s computer files and is designed to only be unlocked once payment is made. The hackers initially warned that the ransom would increase every day after the first four days and promised to delete all the locked files after 10 days.

According to the Baltimore Sun, a wide range of government agencies have been affected as a result of the attack, including the Department of Transportation and the police department.

“The effects ranged from a City Council committee canceling a hearing on gun violence to water customers being unable to get billing questions answered,” the Baltimore Sun reported.

Epidemiologists with the Baltimore Health Department have even been cut off from a network that helps them to warn citizens when certain drugs are causing overdoses, the Wall Street Journal notes.

While it is uncertain when exactly the government’s systems will be restored, Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young has claimed that progress is being made.

“I am not able to provide you with an exact timeline on when all systems will be restored,” Young said in a statement. “You may see partial services beginning to restore within a matter of weeks, while some of our more intricate systems may take months in the recovery process.”

Although the cause of the infection has not been revealed, the issue could have likely stemmed from vulnerable computers that did not install security updates. The ransomware attack is not the first that the city has faced. Last year, Baltimore’s 911 emergency system was temporarily disrupted by hackers, as well.

The city of Greenville, North Carolina, was also hit with RobbinHood malware just last month and similarly ordered to pay 13 bitcoin. Like Baltimore, Greenville says it refused to adhere to the hackers’ demands.


H/T Gizmodo

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*First Published: May 22, 2019, 5:34 pm CDT