Baltimore government’s computers held hostage by hackers

City has not met hackers’ demands for weeks, leaving citizens without access to municipal services

Baltimore government’s computers held hostage by hackers


By Lyle Adriano

The city of Baltimore is at the mercy of hackers, who have held the municipality’s computers hostage via ransomware for weeks.

On May 07, hackers managed to infect about 10,000 of the city government’s computers with a ransomware called RobbinHood. The cyberattackers insisted the city pay 13 bitcoin in exchange for freeing the computers from the malware, adding that the ransom price would increase each day after four days.

The hackers threatened that if the ransom was not paid by the 10th day, the affected files would be lost for good.

“We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY!” the hackers said in a note. “Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!”

It has been two weeks since the attack, and the city’s computers are still down; Baltimore has yet to pay, and its citizens have lost access to many city services – such as payment services and email – as a result.

Baltimore Sun reported that the Robbinhood ransomware works by encrypting files with a “file-locking” virus. The virus affected the city’s Department of Public Works, the Department of Transportation, and the Baltimore Police Department.

The ransomware also impacted the Baltimore Health Department. According to the Wall Street Journal, epidemiologists were unable to use the network to warn citizens of overdose risks with certain drugs.

Gizmodo said that many of Baltimore’s services had resumed through phone, while emergency systems such as 911 and 311 reportedly continue to function.

Last week, Mayor Bernard Young issued a statement saying that the city is “well into the restorative process” and is working with the FBI’s investigation.

“I am not able to provide you with an exact timeline on when all systems will be restored,” the mayor explained. “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.”

The mayor’s statements indicate that the city has no immediate plans to pay the ransom.

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