Last year, it happened to Atlanta. This year, Baltimore. The city's online services have been largely shut down since hackers breached servers about two weeks ago, reports NPR. The hackers demanded 13 Bitcoins—worth about $102,000 as of Tuesday morning—but the city is refusing to pay and is instead working with the FBI. Any resolution is probably weeks, if not months, away and it will be expensive to boot. Baltimore, unlike Atlanta, doesn't have insurance to help with the cost of cleaning up after the so-called RobinHood ransomware, reports Ars Technica. In the meantime, people can't make payments online, real estate transactions have been delayed, and much of the city's email and even phone systems remain down.
"Imagine if somebody would sneak into a government building at night, load up a bunch of boxes with all the paperwork for all the pending permits and all the pending house closings and all the pending business that the city was conducting, put it all in a truck and drive away," a Johns Hopkins cybersecurity expert tells NPR. That's essentially what the hackers did, from the safety of their own computers. For now, baby steps: On Monday, the city instituted a "manual workaround" for real estate transactions, reports CBS Baltimore. (Not helping: The city has a relatively new mayor and administration, thanks to a scandal that forced the previous mayor to step down.)