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Committee created to analyze ransomware attack

Posted at 5:39 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 09:12:08-04

BALTIMORE — "We know that this is a crisis situation," said City Council President Brandon Scott.

The ransomware attack 10 days ago caused a network outage impacting city government operations, from e-mail servers to online payment processings and property sales. Scott said getting everything back online will be a multi-week process.

"The most important thing is to make sure that the malware itself is contained or quarantined and one that's completed, then you work from there in terms of what the response is and how you resolve the problem," said councilman Eric Costello.

City officials are working with the FBI, partners at Microsoft and expert contractors in the criminal investigation.

"The priority is working through this real estate transaction issue because the city's not able to produce lien sheets for a variety of reasons," said Costello.

To prevent an attack like this from having such an impact on city operations in the future, Scott has created a special committee on cybersecurity and emergency preparedness.

"Look into what happened, how it happened, when it happened, what steps were taken, what missteps were taken, what steps were not taken that should have been taken," said Scott.

It will be co-chaired by Councilmen Yitzy Schleifer and Eric Costello.

"My background is as an IT auditor for the world-leading audit firm. Did that for about 8.5 years, and that's the perspective that I'm going to bring to this committee," said Costello.

They haven't set a first meeting date yet. Scott said they first need to make more progress in restoring the network but want to make it clear that many of the city's operations, like 911 and 311, are not impacted.

"The city is functioning and operational. You can go on our website, get the information, call us, get the services you need," said Scott.

The finance department is also making contingency plans in case there is still an outage come the end of June, when the first payment of property taxes for the majority of homeowners in the city is due.