Baltimore Mayor Jack Young is laying out his plan to deal with the ongoing ransomware attack that continues to impact the city's computer systems.
Young has been mayor of Baltimore for 16 days, 11 of which the city has been held hostage by a ransomware attack.
"We haven't heard of anything being erased, but I hope that they understand the harm they're doing to people," Young said.
Officials believe the RobinHood virus hit the city's computer network sometime early on May 7, cutting off the ability to process daily urban life. The Police Department can't email and people can't pay speeding tickets or tax liens.
Real estate transactions were stopped cold in the attack. No one can buy or sell property, and the city can't collect a major revenue source.
The mayor's office announced Friday afternoon that they have a manual workaround that should be in place Monday at the Wolman Municipal Building, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. all week and will be staffed to help people with real estate transactions.
"We are hoping to have a fix for the real estate transactions, but we have to make sure it's OK with title companies before we can go forward," Young said.
More information about the manual workaround can be found below.
The governor's office released a statement, saying: "At Gov. (Larry) Hogan's direction, we have connected Baltimore City officials with state and federal resources to assess their systems and help restore operations."
The city could get all the systems back if they pay a ransom, which cybersecurity experts believe is getting close to $200,000.
Since day one, the mayor has said he's not paying, but that changed on day 11.
"In order to move the city forward, I might think about it, but I have not made a decision yet," Young said.
Young's office released a statement updating the ransomware attack, saying: "As everyone is aware, we discovered on May 7, 2019, that the city was the victim of a ransomware attack. We immediately went into incident response mode, quickly took services and systems offline to contain the attack, and activated key partners to help us investigate and respond. We established a web-based incident command, shifted operations into manual mode and established other workarounds to facilitate the continued delivery of services to the public. We continue to adjust and refine the delivery of those services that were only partly interrupted and to pursue ways to reactivate any services that were completely interrupted.
"We are well into the restorative process, and as I've indicated, are cooperating with the FBI on their investigation. Due to that investigation, we are not able to share information about the attack. To the extent that we can, we will continue to keep you informed about our process.
"As I've mentioned previously, we engaged leading industry cybersecurity experts who are on-site 24/7 working with us. As part of our containment strategy, we deployed enhanced monitoring tools throughout our network to gain additional visibility. As you can (imagine), with approximately 7,000 users, this takes time.
"Some of the restoration efforts also require that we rebuild certain systems to make sure that when we restore business functions, we are doing so in a secure manner.
"I am not able to provide you with an exact timeline on when all systems will be restored. Like any large enterprise, we have thousands of systems and applications. Our focus is getting critical services back online, and doing so in a manner that ensures we keep security as one of our top priorities throughout this process. You may see partial services beginning to restore within a matter of weeks, while some of our more intricate systems may take months in the recovery process.
"The mayor's office, city agencies and departments continue to work very closely with Baltimore City Information Technology (BCIT) to identify restoration priorities and assist with the recovery process. Where possible, City agencies have enacted feasible alternatives and are continuing to do so.
"Finally, my recently named Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Mrs. Sheryl Goldstein, begins her term on Monday, May 20. I've tasked her with advancing those performance management standards and analytics to effectively measure the impact of this incident and inform decisions going forward. Expect to receive regular updates from her about this incident and the city's ongoing response.
"Again, we appreciate the public's patience as we work to restore normal operations."
RESPONSES FROM CITY AGENCIES
Key life and safety systems are operational.
City's 311 Call Center operational; will assist with questions from the public.
City telephone system is operational; voicemail is not functional.
City email accounts are not functional. Many departments have established temporary email accounts for the continuation of operations. Please visit the city's website for information on specific departments and agencies.
City online payment system is not operational (typically used to pay water bills, vehicle citations, property taxes). Pay bills by mail or in person at the Abel Wolman Municipal Building, 200 N. Holliday St . Please bring a copy of the bill, along with check or money order. Late fees are being suspended until all systems are restored.
The parking fines database cannot be accessed, however, the Department of Transportation has established a process to assist citizens in retrieving vehicles from the impound lot during this outage. Please call 410-396-9958.
For Public Works-related matters, the department is processing requests through its call center at 410-396-5352.
For Permits and Licenses, any permits in process will continue to be processed. The Department of Housing and Community Development is working with customers in person or customers can call 443-984-1809 for assistance.
Parks and Recreations -- continues to process applications for Camp Baltimore. Applications must be processed in person at 3201 Boston St. along the Canton waterfront.
Real Estate Transactions – Under the direction of Mayor Young, the city of Baltimore has developed a manual workaround that will allow real estate transactions to proceed during the city's technology outage. The plan will take effect Monday, May 20. To accommodate citizens, the Abel Wolman Municipal Building will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday for the week.
The workaround that was developed by the city includes the following steps:
- Baltimore City will accept requests for lien certificates in person at the Abel Wolman Municipal Building at 200 N. Holliday Street, in Room 1. All transactions must be made in-person.
- Any seller or transferor of a property will be required to sign a form Affidavit for Payment of Outstanding Charges. The affidavit will re-affirm the transferor's obligation to pay any outstanding charges that would otherwise appear on a lien certificate together with a promise to pay such charges within 10 days of receipt of an invoice from the city.
- While the mainframe is inaccessible, the city will issue lien certificates showing zero liens and including a reference to the form affidavit. This will remove any responsibility for paying any property debts or settling the liens from the new owner of the property. That responsibility will rest solely on the transferor.
- At the time of recording, the responsible parties should pay all the open liens of which they are aware by check or money order.
The lien certificate, with the affidavit attached, should be hand-delivered to Room 1B of the Abel Wolman Municipal Building at 200 N. Holliday St.