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Ransom deadline comes and goes, city refuses to pay

Posted at 4:59 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-20 10:25:34-04

BALTIMORE — The weekend of the 144th year of the Preakness Stakes began Friday against the backdrop of the drama surrounding the storied race and its future in Baltimore, but arguably, Mayor Jack Young is dealing with a more pressing issue.

“As far as I am concerned there is no deadline when criminals want money,” Young said in an interview outside Pimlico Race Track.

But Young is well aware of the world of hurt hackers are bringing on Baltimore.

Not the least of which is the housing market screeching to a halt because the city can't record property transactions and residents can't go to settlement.

It is dire enough for Young to leave the door open, maybe a crack.

“I am still not willing to pay them, but my mind might be open towards that to get the city functioning again,” Young said in an apparent turnaround, “I said I might be open, I'm not sure yet, to keep the city from being crippled, I'm thinking it over.”

But Councilman Eric Costello says that would be a bad idea.

“We should not pay it. We would be paying digital currency to an entity that we do not know and there can still be remnants of the malware left behind.”

Costello is co-chairing a special committee on cyber security in light of the hack.

While paying is an option, he says city lawyers and federal authorities say it guarantees nothing and is not advised.

While there is a manual work around for the real estate issue that will be in effect next week, Costello says despite the widespread frustration and crippled systems, the plan still is to not give in.

RELATED: Manual work around developed to resume real estate transactions following city ransomware attack

“My understanding is that the mayor is following the advice and guidance of our federal law enforcement partners and the department of law. Right now, their position has been that we are not going to pay it and I am confident that the mayor will continue to take their advice.”

It is unclear what will happen next or if the hackers will make good on their threat on their deadline.

While no one can tell us how long this will go on, Mayor Jack Young announced late Friday that a manual work around for the real estate transactions which will start next week and that the city is “well into the restorative process” and continues to work with federal authorities.