Recovery costs for Baltimore hack to exceed $18m

Cleanup effort and lost revenue is expected to cost more than 180 times the initial ransom

The devastating ransomware attack that crippled the city of Baltimore's public services for more than two weeks will cost approximately $18.2 million (14.3 million) to put right, according to the city's mayor.

Cleanup efforts in the immediate aftermath of the attack will cost Baltimore $10 million through to the end of the year, according to mayor Bernard Young, speaking at a council hearing last week. Meanwhile, an additional $8 million in costs have been sustained due to deferred or lost revenue while the city was unable to process payments.

The city's IT office has already spent $4.6 million on recovery operations since the attack on 7 May, city officials revealed, with an additional $5.4 million earmarked to be spent by the end of the year, according to the Baltimore Sun.

"We're not going to pay criminals for bad deeds. That's not going to happen," Young said in response to questions over the expected costs, adding: "There's no guarantee that if you pay, you reset your system".

For more than two weeks in May, thousands of government computers were infected with malware, said to be a strain known as RobinHood. This shut down a string of government services including those for paying taxes and parking tickets, as well as internal email systems.

In contrast with the eye-watering costs of the hack revealed this weak, the hackers asked for just 13 bitcoins, valued at just under $100,000 at the time. 

Mayor Young has since faced criticism over his handling of the attack, with his repeated refusal to pay the ransom being branded as "shortsighted" by Forrester analyst Josh Zelonis.

"While many advise against paying ransoms, Forrester has been tracking a trend of companies that negotiated with the extortionists and paid for decryption keys as part of their incident recovery," he said.

"Conventional wisdom does not factor in what is best for your business and the situation you are currently in. Platitudes and emotion are not going to help you formulate an optimal recovery path for your business."

Meanwhile, recovery is complicated, and even if there are good backups, businesses tend to underestimate the scale of disruption that needs to be planned ahead for, he added.

Additional reports have since indicated the perpetrators used a Windows exploit developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) to target the city. The EternalBlue tool also exploits a vulnerability with Windows XP and Vista systems, also called EternalBlue. This flaw allows hackers to execute commands remotely on targeted devices.

The exploit has also been at the centre of a number of infamous cyber attacks including the WannaCry attack of May 2017 and NotPetya in June the same year.

The former had a particularly devastating effect on the NHS, costing the health service more than 92 million to recover. The bulk of these costs, 72 million, were allocated towards restoring its services to full operation and recover data in the immediate months following the attack.

Featured Resources

Digital document processes in 2020: A spotlight on Western Europe

The shift from best practice to business necessity

Download now

Four security considerations for cloud migration

The good, the bad, and the ugly of cloud computing

Download now

VR leads the way in manufacturing

How VR is digitally transforming our world

Download now

Deeper than digital

Top-performing modern enterprises show why more perfect software is fundamental to success

Download now

Recommended

How can you protect your business from crypto-ransomware?
Security

How can you protect your business from crypto-ransomware?

4 Nov 2019
Microsoft becomes the most-spoofed brand for phishing attacks
Security

Microsoft becomes the most-spoofed brand for phishing attacks

20 Oct 2020
Managing employee security risks during lockdown
Security

Managing employee security risks during lockdown

20 Oct 2020
iPhone 12 poses potential security risk for WhatsApp users
Security

iPhone 12 poses potential security risk for WhatsApp users

19 Oct 2020

Most Popular

The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers
Security

The top 12 password-cracking techniques used by hackers

5 Oct 2020
iPhone 12 lineup official with A14 Bionic chip and 5G support
Mobile Phones

iPhone 12 lineup official with A14 Bionic chip and 5G support

13 Oct 2020
Google blocked record-breaking 2.5Tbps DDoS attack in 2017
Security

Google blocked record-breaking 2.5Tbps DDoS attack in 2017

19 Oct 2020