The City of Baltimore Crippled by Ransomware Attack
The City of Baltimore is the latest high-profile city to be hit with ransomware.
On May 7, the city was hit with a sophisticated cyberattack that crippled its computer systems. Although the city remained defiant as the ransom deadline hit, refusing to pay the ransom, Baltimore Mayor Jack Young is apparently open to working with the attackers.
The attack took down email servers and the online payment systems for water bills and traffic citations. Other systems were impaired: the phone system remains operational but voicemail is down, and permits can’t be processed online but can be obtained in person or by phone. The city developed a manual workaround to resume real estate transactions.
The city has engaged cybersecurity experts and is also working closely with the FBI on the restorative and investigative processes. If the cyberattack on the City of Atlanta can be considered an accurate gauge, the cost of these efforts will certainly be much more than the initial ransom demanded.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a cyberattack that encrypts your computer data, essentially making your systems unusable. A ransom note is left behind by the attackers, detailing their demands. This is typically an amount in bitcoin, a hard-to-trace currency that has helped fuel the damaging, worldwide ransomware phenomenon.
The attackers promise a decryption key in exchange for the payment of the ransom.
If the ransom is not paid within the typically tight deadline, the decryption keys are “tossed away,” and the victim must deal with the loss.
Sensitive data possibly shared
One tragic byproduct of a ransomware attack is the potential for sensitive data to be shared, sold, and used by the attackers for additional profit.