On May 7th 2019, Baltimore city officials announced that a relatively new strain of ransomware labeled “Robbinhood” by The Baltimore Sun had encrypted important data including email, voice messaging, the city wide parking ticket database, and the cities utility and tax payment system. It has been determined that the hackers got in via a phishing email- a phony message tricking network users into giving hackers their credentials.
The Maryland city is still struggling to respond to hackers as over a month later as Baltimore city mayor Bernard Young has refused to pay the ransom of $100,000 in Bitcoin (an online currency that is hard to trace and has a wildly fluctuating value). Since refusing to pay the ransom the hackers have gone on twitter taunting Mayor Young posting faxes and other materials that the twitter account claims is evidence that they have been inside the cities network.
In a direct message to a Baltimore Sun reporter on Twitter, the account claiming to be the hackers said they have “ Financial documents and citizens personal information” and went as far as to release them on the dark web.
It is estimated that the total cost of the ransomware attack is going to cost the city of Baltimore over 18.2 million dollars- and that is assuming the hackers do not leak financial or citizen’s information onto the dark web.
How this could have been avoided
Offsite Data Backup
If the city of Baltimore had been backing up their data to either the cloud, offsite servers, or a combination of both, they would have had a recent backup to fall back on and continue operations with the only data being lost was that since the last back up. Trusted IT partners like Current Technologies can help implement regularly scheduled offsite backups and help you restore your data in the event of a would be catastrophe.
Many ransomware attacks that hit cities or businesses occur due to outdated security technologies like firewalls or anti-virus software. In today’s day and age, hackers can scan thousands of organizations looking for specific vulnerabilities that only the latest software and hardware can prevent. This is why it is important to consult with your IT provider regularly to insure that your data is kept safe.
The entire Baltimore city hacking could have prevented had one employee not mistakenly given their credentials to a phishing email. It is important to have regular discussions with employees about good internet practices. Important practices include reporting spam emails, avoiding suspicious links and online ads, and regularly changing and strengthening passwords.
The threat of a cyber attack is never ending, and a majority of events like this occur to small businesses and cities and if it happened to a large city like Baltimore, it can definitely happen to you. No solution will be 100% effective, however the more security layers you have in place the safer you will be. If you are concerned that this could happen to your organization, contact the security experts at Current Technologies. Our IT team will help with data encryption, offsite backups, monitoring and disaster recovery. If you have your own IT team but are still worried, Current Technologies can bring you the latest versions of security software and hardware to make your IT team as effective as possible.