Education, Government, Science

Baltimore ransomware attack: how are county residents affected?

RansomwareTOWSON, MD – As Baltimore City works to address the ransomware attack on their computer systems, Baltimore County officials are sharing information about the possible implications for Baltimore County residents.

It’s important to note that Baltimore County has not experienced a ransomware attack, however, there are a few ways county residents could impacted by the attack. County officials are working to minimize those impacts.

Property Transfers

Baltimore County will not hold up any deed transfers for water bills. The Baltimore County’s Lien Certificate only lists the phone number for the City’s Water Department – Baltimore County’s normal process does not verify whether the water account is up to date. That function is completed by the Title Company.

The water bill issue will only affect the transfer of a property if, at the settlement table, the buyer does not want to proceed without information about the final water bill. This would be between the buyer and seller. The title company would have the ability to establish an escrow amount for the water charge until the actual amount can be determined.

Water Billing

While Baltimore City’s ability to deliver water to residents and businesses is not affected by the attack, the water billing system is down. The City’s Department of Public Works has created an email address, DPW.Billing.Baltimorecity@gmail.com, as a temporary point of contact for customers to send them communication.

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Sewer Billing

The county’s Department of Public Works Metro District Billing Office uses the city’s water information and systems to assist with customer service inquiries. Until Baltimore City computer systems are fully restored, the process of responding to billing inquiries may be slowed.

Security of the County’s Systems

Baltimore County Government officials say they are committed to protecting citizen data and maintaining availability of citizen services. While no security controls can guarantee complete protection, Baltimore County has invested in technologies over many years to strengthen the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems to weather unforeseen events.

Every Baltimore County employee receives regular training on how to identify malware and other basic cybersecurity methods. As county officials become aware of new threats like those in our neighboring jurisdictions being targeted, they begin to add warning notices to every email message received from outside of the network so employees could better identify phishing messages and potential malware.

Meanwhile, City Council President Brandon Scott has called for a committee to look into the city’s cybersecurity and its response to this attack.

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