The city of Baltimore was brought to a standstill after a ransomware attack by hackers cut the city’s communication system on May 7, 2019. In a recent announcement from Financial Director Henry Raymond, it was revealed that the hack will cost the city a whopping $18 million.
The ransomware attack was brought to everyone’s notice after a threat note was received by The Baltimore Sun, a prominent local newspaper, that made the hackers’ intent clear. Initially, they had demanded $80,000 worth of Bitcoin (BTC) to free the 10,000+ computer systems they had hacked into. Later, the demand was changed to $10,000 worth of Bitcoin per day.
Baltimore Officials Are Determined to Not Pay the Hackers
During the Baltimore City Council budget hearing, the Financial Director revealed that city officials had already paid $4.6 million after the attack. He expects another $5.4 million to be pushed into setting the city free of the attack. In addition to that, $8.2 million was reported as the loss due to delayed revenue, loss of interest, and penalty income.
When put in contrast with the $80,000 demand made by the hackers, losing $18 million for the sake of not bending to that demand may sound like a foolish idea to many. However, its a strong move by Baltimore authorities to not pay the attacker and further fund them to easily carry out their next attack.
Investigative reporter Jayne Miller, through a tweet on June 4, 2019, revealed that the U.S. Conference of Mayors was passing a resolution to never pay the ransomware attack perpetrators.
Baltimore City Ransomware update:
35% of city employees back on line with new passwords..should be 90% by end of week
Prop tax bills going out as usual July 1
Still no water billing
Est cost of attack: $18 mi
Ransom demand: $80k
US Conf of Mayors passing resolution to never pay pic.twitter.com/4E4zORnUDC
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) June 4, 2019
In the same tweet, Jayne Miller also stated that 35 percent of City-of-Baltimore employees were successful in changing their passwords and the number was expected to hit 90 percent by the end of this week.
Despite the good news, it is still unclear exactly how far government agencies have come in terms of fighting the ransomware inflicted upon the city’s computer systems.
Centralized Structures are Easy to Break
The current way in which local governments function is highly vulnerable, as the whole system rests on a countable number of pillars. As was the case with Baltimore, the hackers were able to gain access to the central system and then damage the whole city that relied on it.
Had Baltimore put in place a more decentralized system, the hackers would have had no defined target to hit. Any shot they took would have been in the dark, making their chances of success minimal.
Do you think Baltimore officials are taking the right steps to defeat the hackers? What security measures would have stopped this event from taking place? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.