Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young vowed Friday to go after the hackers who infiltrated and disrupted the city’s technology systems — and pledged again to refuse to pay their demand for ransom.
“We’re not going to pay a ransom,” Young said. “These folks, it’s not just Baltimore city, they prey on all governments. They prey on corporations and companies. It’s a criminal act. We’re going to get them and punish them to the fullest extent of the law.”
The FBI is investigating the hackers, who are seeking tens of thousands of dollars from the city after infiltrating computer systems and shutting down a majority of city servers. The effects ranged from a City Council committee canceling a hearing on gun violence to water customers being unable to get billing questions answered.
Young and City Council President Brandon Scott assured residents Friday that city services were operational, though some were being done the old-fashioned way — with pencil and paper or by telephone.
Young said city IT workers have contained the virus, but it could take weeks for all services to return to full digital functioning.
“We are doing business,” Young said. “We’re just doing it manually. You can pay by check and money orders. We are operating.”
The mayor said paychecks were being delivered Friday to workers.
The ransom message on Baltimore’s computer system said the RobbinHood virus had encrypted files. The note demanded payment of 3 Bitcoins (worth about $17,600) per system, or 13 Bitcoins (worth about $76,280) to free all the city’s systems. It said Tuesday that the ransom must be paid within four days, or the price would go up, and that after 10 days, the city would not be able to get its data back.
Young said Friday the attack “crippled our whole system.” He vowed to bring the systems back to full operation.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be a week or two, but I know we’ll get it done,” he said. “We have experts helping us out.”
Scott said he expected some systems to be down for weeks.
“The city is still operational,” Scott said. “We might have to turn back the clock and use paper and use phone. You can still get the help and services you need from the city of Baltimore.”