Baltimore ransomware nightmare could last weeks more, with big consequences


Enlarge / Baltimore City Hall, where the ransomware battle continues. (credit: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE—It has been a month since the City of Baltimore’s networks were brought to a standstill by ransomware. On Tuesday, Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young and his cabinet briefed press on the status of the cleanup, which the city’s director of finance has estimated will cost Baltimore $10 million—not including $8 million lost because of deferred or lost revenue while the city was unable to process payments. The recovery remains in its early stages, with less than a third of city employees issued new log-in credentials thus far and many city business functions restricted to paper-based workarounds.

“All city services remain open, and Baltimore is open for business,” Mayor Young said at the briefing, listing off critical services that had continued to function during the network outage. City Finance Director Henry Raymond called the current state of systems “not ideal, but manageable”—some emails and phone services have been restored, and many systems have remained online, but payment processing systems and other tools used to handle transactions with the city remain in manual workaround mode. Department of Public Works Director Rudy Chow warned residents to expect a larger-than-normal water bill in the future, as the city’s smart meters and water billing system are still offline and bills cannot be generated.

Parking tickets and tickets generated by the city’s speed and red light cameras can be paid in person if the ticket is in hand. The city has regained the data for all parking and camera-generated violations up to May 4, but it still lacks the ability to look up violations without the physical paper ticket or process payments electronically, city officials said. And the same is true for many other interactions with the city, which currently require mailing or hand-delivering paper documents and manual workarounds.

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