BALTIMORE — Business owners who are trying to open back up at the newly-renovated Cross Street Market are some of the unsuspecting victims of the ransomware attack on the city's network. It's been a long few months as they got their shops ready, but now they have to wait to open.
"They’ve been shut down for a number of months because we were finishing up construction and building out their new stalls, so I think they are frustrated because they want to get going to build momentum and get their customers back," said developer Arsh Mirmiran.
Legacy tenant Steve's Lunch, Fenwick's Choice Meats and The Sweet Shoppe can't get their required permits to open because of the network outage. Some had planned to open this week.
"We are just waiting on the city to get the system worked out or some sort of back-up plan to temporarily issue permits and then have them be put into the system at a later time," said Mirmiran.
They aren't close to the only ones feeling the impacts. E-mails are down. The city cannot process water and parking bill payments online or pay vendors. No property transactions can be conducted so buyers can't close on their homes. City officials are hopeful the property title operations will resume late next week, but they have no idea when the whole system will be back online.
"The city network actually was viciously assaulted by a culprit and seriously injured," said City Solicitor Andre Davis.
City officials say employees are working around the clock in collaboration with the FBI, partners from Microsoft and expert contractors following "industry best practices."
"There are hardworking, dedicated employees who have put their personal lives on hold because they love this city," said Chief Digital Officer Frank Johnson.
Though they cannot disclose who has been contracted to help because it's all under a criminal investigation, Johnson says they are drawing on expertise from city officials in Atlanta, who recovered from a massive ransomware attack last year.
"We are not doing this alone. We are doing this led by people who have deeper expertise in what to do first, what to check and how do you carefully and safely and more securely bring capability back online," said Johnson.
He said it's a fluid situation but progress has been made. The finance department is making a contingency plan in case there is still an outage come the end of June, when the first payments of property taxes for the majority of homeowners in the city are due.
At Cross Street Market, the developer and business owners understand it's not the city's fault, and they are working with them to get the businesses opened up as soon as possible.