As Baltimore Hackers Demand $100,000 Ransom In BTC, Google Quickly Disables Gmail Accounts Of Officials
As Baltimore Hackers Demand $100,000 In BTC As Ransom, Google Quickly Disables Gmail Accounts Of Officials
- Baltimore’s government network has been hacked.
- A ransom of $100,000 in Bitcoin has been demanded by the hackers.
Hacking is an activity that too much of the cryptocurrency community has gotten familiar with at this point. Many of these attempts have gone after businesses of all sizes and even have demanded ransoms. Now, government offices in Baltimore have become the latest subject of an attack, after being breached by hackers that are now demanding to be paid $100,000 in ransom, which they want to be paid in Bitcoin, according to reports from Finance Magnates on May 24th.
At this point, the hackers have managed to disable the email addresses associated with the government entities, and there is no way for the authorities to accept payments. Still, that has not stopped the city officials from creating Gmail accounts to replace them for now. In an interesting turn of events, Google decided to disable their accounts, leaving a message behind to state exactly that when the city officials attempt to send a message.
Explaining the circumstances, a spokesperson for Google said that the reason for disabling the accounts is due to a trigger on the automated security system, considering the bulk of accounts being created within a shared network. This type of activity is flagged automatically since it could be an attempt to commit fraud or initiate spam accounts. Since the Google team has been made aware of the situation, they have given the local government access to the accounts once again.
The city officials of Baltimore have decided against paying out the ransom.
The case appears to be forwarded to the FBI and Secret Service, who are working to find the identity of the hacker (or hackers) leading the attack. Unfortunately, Baltimore has been hit with these types of cyber-attacks on security just last year, when they prevented dispatch systems for first responders from responding as necessary. The hold lasted for 24 hours.
By imposing this lock on accepting payments in the city, local residents haven’t been able to use the facilities to pay for their utility bills, taxes, and parking fines. Luckily, the residents will not be subjected to any fees for late payments, as the situation is out of their control. Along with preventing payments to the government, the hack has kept home insurers from checking for unpaid liens of homebuyers, which means that about 1,500 home sales could not complete.
The mayor of Baltimore has released a statement, telling the public that he knows about the hack and that the cybersecurity teams already in place have been working to make the system functionable again. A spokesman for the mayor, Lester Davis, stated, “I know the folks in the technology office are working diligently to bring us back on board.” However, there has been no estimation regarding how long it will take the government to regain access.
In the meantime, hackers are waiting to have their ransom fulfilled. In a message to the government officials, the hackers said,
“We’ve watched you for days and we’ve worked on your systems to gain full access to your company and bypass all of your protections. We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY!”
Other US cities have had similar attacks from hackers, like Atlanta, and they have also refused to pay ransom. However, the cost of not paying out a ransom has often been more costly to the cities. In Atlanta, the hackers were trying to get the city to pay out $52,000 in BTC as the ransom. However, the city refused, and local reports suggest that the city could end up paying $17 million as a result.
In Colorado last year, attackers infected the computer network of the Department of Transportation, demanding only 3 BTC as ransom at the time. CDOT refused to pay out, but the cost of restoring the system ended up costing them $1.5 million so far.