Should Baltimore Pay Ransom to the Hackers Holding City Computers Hostage?

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Should Baltimore Pay Ransom to the Hackers Holding City Computers Hostage?

Baltimore’s city computers are still down.

They’ve been down since May 7, when the city learned that the ransomware known as RobbinHood had infected many of its computer systems and encrypted their files. To restore the data, the city was given four days to pay three Bitcoins—about $23,000 at today’s prices.

The city did not respond by the deadline. So the ransom increased to 13 Bitcoins—about $100,000—with a new deadline of May 17.

Baltimore again refused to pay. The second deadline also passed. Predictably, computer chaos continued . The city’s email, voicemail, and some websites were down. Its online bill payment system was offline and a database of parking fines was inaccessible. Permits could not be issued, text alerts could not be sent, and real estate transactions, including home sales, could not be processed.

The news isn’t all bad. Baltimore is also having problems collecting property taxes, giving financially strapped homeowners a few extra weeks of tax relief. The city also couldn’t update its controversial "gun offender" registry , which requires anyone convicted of certain firearm-related crimes to register with the police commissioner for three years. (Among the crimes requiring registration: carrying a handgun without a permit, manufacturing unapproved handguns, and possessing "assault […]

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