Application security, Network Security

Google adds to Baltimore’s ransomware woes

A recent attempt by Baltimore government officials to create a workaround that would allow them to email while the city recovers from a ransomware attack was temporarily stymied by Google.

Baltimore staffers had started to create Google Gmail accounts as a temporary replacement communication system. However, Google’s automatic security apparatus shut down the accounts as it believed the activity may have been fraudulent, WBAL-TV reported.

Google’s system became interested in the new and related accounts because they were created as personal, and not business, email accounts. Google on May 23 did restore the accounts.

"We have restored access to the Gmail accounts for the Baltimore City officials. Our automated security systems disabled the accounts due to the bulk creation of multiple consumer Gmail accounts from the same network,” the company tweeted.

Baltimore’s government computer system was hit on May with Robbinhood ransomware, which shut down most of the city’s servers, forced the city council to cancel meetings, knocked the city’s online payment system offline, and stopped licenses and property titles from being processed. The Baltimore Sun obtained a copy of the ransom note, which contained an a la carte demand list asking for three bitcoins (about $17,600) to decrypt individual systems or 13 bitcoins (about $76,000) to decrypt all the city’s systems. The city had four days to pay, but declined.

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