Ground Up

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GBBR: Baltimore computers may be restored in days

Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors CEO Al Ingraham Wednesday expressed cautious optimism to members that the city’s computer systems can be restored in a matter of days.

Ingraham told organization members in a message posted on GBBR’s website Wednesday afternoon there’s potential to fix systems hijacked by a ransomware attack on City Hall last week in as little as four days. Industry professionals previously said they worried the computer virus would cripple the city’s housing market.

“This process is anticipated to take between four and five business days, which would mean that the citywide system should be online and operational by the end of next week. As a word of caution, there are no guarantees for this time frame because the application of this remediation is truly untested waters,” according to the message.

Hackers last week managed to place a computer virus in city systems that encrypted files, causing the email and phone systems to to crash. The perpetrators offered to return the system to normal in exchange for $76,000. Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young refused to pay the attackers. The incident is being investigated by the FBI.

As a result of the so-called “Robinhood” attack, the city’s Transfer Office cannot process deeds, deeds of trust, or property liens. Major title insurance companies also prohibited agents from issuing title insurance policies for Baltimore home sales until city computer systems returned to working order.

As of Tuesday the city believed any solution was at least three weeks away. That worried agents and title companies concerned that a lengthy delay may scuttle deals.

Chief Digital Officer Frank Johnson said during a news conference on Wednesday morning that a team of experts is working around the clock to get city systems back online more securely than before and to remediate the damage done by the attack.

“I know everyone wants to know when and what will be back online. Anybody that’s been in this business will tell you that as you learn more those plans change by the minute. They’re incredibly fluid,” Johnson said.

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