Baltimore has created a Committee on Cybersecurity and Emergency Preparedness, as City Hall struggles to recover from a hack that crippled the government’s email and other computer systems.
Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott said the committee will invite testimony from experts to help the council examine the city’s cybersecurity policies and emergency plans and review the response to the attack by Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s administration.
According to a news report, Councilmen Eric Costello and Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer will serve as co-chairmen of the committee.
On May 7 the city fell victim to hackers demanding payment to unlock encrypted files in city computers. Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young has said the city will not pay a ransom to the virus called RobbinHood, which city officials have described as “very aggressive.”
“The Baltimore City Council and I stand ready to work with the Administration and our federal partners including the FBI and, if appropriate, the Department of Homeland Security, to resolve the crisis, support the criminal investigation and take active steps to prevent this from happening again,” Scott said.
The disruption to the computer network has caused widespread problems in city government, said the news report. City employees do not have access to email, leading some to create private accounts to get work done. The hack has affected the city’s ability to accept payments, and officials have said they are suspending late fees. Several agencies are developing workarounds to continue offering services that typically rely on computers.
Emergency services, including 911 and 311, were not affected, but the Baltimore Police Department email system was not working.