IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Baltimore ransomware attack cripples public services

City services for taxation and water bills have been offline for more than two weeks

The city of Baltimore has been locked out of its online services for more than two weeks after thousands of government computers were infected with ransomware.

The hack, which was first discovered on 7 May, has shut down a number of government services, including those for paying tax, parking tickets and water bills, and has prevented employees from sending or receiving emails. The perpetrators, who have yet to be identified, have demanded a ransom payment in the form of bitcoin, however, the city's government has so far refused to comply.

According to US media reports, the hackers used ransomware called RobinHood, malware that makes it impossible to access server data without a digital key - a key only the hackers have.

In a ransom note obtained by the Baltimore Sun, seen via Vox, the hackers have demanded payment of 13 bitcoins, worth just under $100,000 at the time of writing.

"We've been watching you for days and we've worked on your systems to gain full access to your company and bypass all of your protections," the note said. "We won't talk more, all we know is MONEY! ... Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!"

The hackers said that the ransom demand would increase if it wasn't paid in four days, adding that the locked information would be permanently locked if they were made to wait ten days for payment. However, both of these deadlines have now passed with the city government refusing to pay.

The government haven't given a timeline for when all services will be restored and, according to Mayor Bernard Young, it could take months before its back to normal.

"Our focus is getting critical services back online and doing so in a manner that ensures we keep security as one of our top priorities throughout this process," Young told the Guardian. "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."

This is Baltimore's second ransomware attack in 15 months, following the targeting of the city's 911 and 311 phone systems last year.

The city of Atlanta was also hit by a cyber attack last year, which saw employees shutout of digital civic services, reportedly costing 17 million to fix.

Featured Resources

AI for customer service

IBM Watson Assistant solves customer problems the first time

View now

Solve cyber resilience challenges with storage solutions

Fundamental capabilities of cyber-resilient IT infrastructure

Free Download

IBM FlashSystem 5000 and 5200 for mid-market enterprises

Manage rapid data growth within limited IT budgets

Free download

Leverage automated APM to accelerate CI/CD and boost application performance

Constant change to meet fast-evolving application functionality

Free Download

Recommended

Ransomware now strikes one in 40 organisations per week, Check Point finds
ransomware

Ransomware now strikes one in 40 organisations per week, Check Point finds

27 Jul 2022
Darktrace AI’s Antigena helps stop ransomware attack at Dordogne GHT
ransomware

Darktrace AI’s Antigena helps stop ransomware attack at Dordogne GHT

13 Apr 2022
Sabbath hackers are targeting US schools and hospitals
ransomware

Sabbath hackers are targeting US schools and hospitals

29 Nov 2021

Most Popular

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

15 Nov 2022
The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers
Security

The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers

14 Nov 2022
Windows users now able to run Linux apps and distros natively
Microsoft Windows

Windows users now able to run Linux apps and distros natively

24 Nov 2022