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Council President Scott calls for cybersecurity special committee

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Posted at 11:20 AM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 08:52:03-04

BALTIMORE — As Baltimore City continues to grapple with a ransomware attack that has halted some city functions and made others more challenging, slow, and anachronistic, newly elected City Council President Brandon Scott has called for the city to create a Special Committee on Cybersecurity and Emergency Preparedness.

Scott convened the committee with co-chairs District 11 Councilman Eric Costello and District 5 Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, to examine Baltimore’s “coordination of cybersecurity efforts, including the Administration’s response to the cybersecurity attack and testimony from cybersecurity experts,” a statement from Scott said.

He expressed relief that many city services, including public safety agencies, water services, and public works, are able to operate currently without interruption. But that respite is short-lived when the city does not know when the threat of this current attack, or future technical assaults, will end or who perpetrated it. The attack has prompted many neighboring jurisdictions to review their own cybersecurity infrastructure and policies.

“The Baltimore City Council and I stand ready to work with the Administration and our federal partners including the FBI and, if appropriate, the Department of Homeland Security, to resolve the crisis, support the criminal investigation and take active steps to prevent this from happening again,” Scott’s statement read. “I remain in daily contact with Administration officials on this matter and will continue to provide updates surrounding government operations and as much as I can about the cybersecurity attack, without compromising the investigation, on the Baltimore City Council website”

The city has adapted to the loss of computer systems where possible, though some functionality remains at a stand still.

As Cross Street Market continues with its remodel and reopening, several businesses cannot get up and running as certain permitting processes have ceased. A similar arrest has come to the area housing market, as final paperwork for home sales can't be processed, causing a ripple effect that starts with city home buyers and sellers and may ripple out to the rest of the state and beyond. With the online records and payment system down, those who had their cars impounded in the city have had to travel to the lot on Pulaski Highway and sort out the issues with cash.

Baltimore joins a list of American cities that have been targeted by ransomware attackers, as the threat continues to grow.