On May 7th, Baltimore’s city government was faced with a ransomware attack by the “RobbinHood” strain that took most department systems offline. Emergency response systems were unaffected by this attack, but the city still faces extensive damage costs that have risen to a price of $18 million.
Frank Johnson - Baltimore’s CIO - had notified the public that this strain of ransomware was particularly aggressive. As noted by the FBI, “Robbinhood” has recently emerged as a new strain from the ransomware family, already having targeted three U.S. cities between April and May.
The ransomware works by individually targeting machines rather than spreading throughout a network to infect each computer. While “Robbinhood” gains access to a network, it works from the domain control to execute ransomware code onto each device. Before file encryption ensues, the ransomware runs a command that powers off any protection and backup tools.
One month after the ransomware attack occurred, the city estimated $10 million in cleanup efforts as well as $8 million in lost revenue as payments were unable to be processed during the city’s time of recovery. Recovery efforts to get the city back up to full functionality are still in its early stages. Employees are currently being issued new log-ins while other business employees are using paper as a means of conducting their operations.
Batlimore’s Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young stated in a press briefing how “city services remain open, and [the city] is open for business” yet the repercussions of the attack are still being felt by both employees and residents. Payment and transaction processing for the city are still being managed manually, such as for parking tickets or red light/speed cam tickets. Over 10,000 employees are also told to receive their new log-in credentials by showing up to one of Baltimore’s offices, a process highly inconvenient for those working for the city.
While the cost of recovery is getting significantly high, City officials were dissuaded by the FBI’s warning from paying any ransomware fee of $70,000, the reason being how there is uncertainty in knowing whether or not the malware is completely out of the City’s network system.
Baltimore has already spent $1 million to purchase new Dell devices as well as hiring temporary staff to help with the ransomware cleanup.
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