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Baltimore acknowledges for first time that data was destroyed in ransomware attack

Baltimore's auditor said Wednesday that IT department performance data was lost when hackers locked city files in May — the first disclosure of data being destroyed in the attack.
Baltimore's auditor said Wednesday that IT department performance data was lost when hackers locked city files in May — the first disclosure of data being destroyed in the attack.

Baltimore’s auditor said Wednesday that the city’s information technology department lost performance data when hackers locked city files in May — the first disclosure of data being destroyed in the attack.

Auditor Josh Pasch told the mayor and other top city officials at a meeting of the city’s spending board that without the data, his team has been unable to check some claims the department made about its performance. The data was stored locally and not backed up.

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“Our recommendation to BCIT for this was to go ahead and revisit and implement a backup system,” Pasch told the board.

Hackers struck in May, encrypting files using ransomware and demanding payment for the decryption keys. The encryption used in such attacks is typically unbreakable, meaning that files not saved in another location can be lost for good. Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young refused to pay the ransom and teams set about rebuilding the city’s computer systems.

It’s not clear how much data might have been permanently lost as a result of the attack.

On Tuesday, the mayor’s office said that Frank Johnson, the city’s IT director, was on leave. His responsibilities are being handled by his deputy, Todd Carter.

Carter appeared before the board Wednesday to discuss the audit findings, but he didn’t address the lost data.

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