The Baltimore City government has been under siege since May 7, as it was hit with a ransomware attack that saw hackers demand $100,000 in bitcoin and officials refuse to pay the ransom. In a new development, Google disabled officials’ Gmail accounts being used as a turnaround.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore City government created Gmail accounts to work during the ransomware attack, as the city’s servers have been disrupted to the point their baltimorecity.gov emails aren’t working.
Recently, however, emails sent to several of the newly created Gmail addresses returned messages claiming the “email account that you tried to reach is disabled.” It was found that Google has considered these business accounts that need to be paid, instead of free individual Gmail accounts.
James Bentley, a spokesperson for Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, noted Baltimore planned to purchase a business plan from Google so the accounts could be restored. The news outlet quoted him as saying:
They disabled them because they deemed them to be business accounts. Their position is these accounts are circumventing their paid service
City Council President Brandon Scott added that meanwhile his staff was appealing the suspension with Google, although he hadn’t been briefed on the problem. A spokeswoman for Baltimore’s health department claimed she was able to see received old emails, but not send or receive new ones.
Per her words, there as no notice on why the account was disabled. On its website, Google claims it’ll suspend accounts used for sending spam, distribute malware, abuse children, violate copyright, or for other illicit purposes.
As CryptoGlobe covered, Baltimore was hit with a ransomware attack earlier this month that brought its real estate industry to a halt and crippled some of its essential systems. So much so the city’s collection and transfer of property taxes and water bills have been affected.
The hackers attacked the city’s servers with a new type of ransomware known as “Robbinhood,” and are demand a 13 BTC ($102,900) ransom to stop the whole attack. They also gave the city the option to pay 3 BTC ($23,700) to decrypt a specific system.