Hackers Are Holding Baltimore’s Government Computers Hostage

On May 7, hackers infected about 10,000 of Baltimore city government’s computers with an aggressive form of ransomware called RobbinHood, and insisted the city pay 13 bitcoin (then $76,280, today $102,310) to cut the computers loose. The hackers claimed the price would go up every day after four days, and after the tenth day, the affected files would be lost forever. From a report: “We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY!” the ransom note read. “Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!” But the city has not paid. In the two weeks since, Baltimore citizens have not had access to many city services. The city payment services and email systems are still offline. A May 7 Baltimore Sun report stated the Robbinhood ransomware used in this attack encrypts files with a “file-locking” virus so the hackers can hold the files hostage. Among the departments that have had issues with their email and phone systems are the Department of Public Works, the Department of Transportation, and the Baltimore Police Department.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Health Department’s epidemiologists aren’t able to use the network that allows them to alert citizens of certain which types of drugs are causing recent overdoses. Many services have resumed through phone, and vital emergency systems like 911 and 311 reportedly continued to function. The ransomware froze the system the city uses for executing home sales, which reportedly hurt the local market, but the city began implementing a manual workaround earlier this week.

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