Ransomware FAQ

Click here for a YouTube playlist of videos addressing Baltimore At Work.

Question: Why don’t we just pay the ransom?

Answer: I know a lot of residents have been saying we should have just paid the ransom or asking why don’t we pay the ransom. Well first, we were advised by both the FBI and Secret Service not to pay the ransom. Second, that’s just not the way we operate.  We won’t reward criminal behavior.

If we paid the ransom:

  • There is no guarantee they can or will unlock our system
  • There is no way of tracking the payment or even being able to confirm who we are paying the money to, because of the way they requested the payment
  • There is no way of knowing if they are leaving other malware on our system to hold us for ransom again in the future

Ultimately, we would still have to take all the steps we have taken to ensure a safe and secure environment. I am confident we have taken the best course of action.

Question: What is the status of Baltimore City right now in terms of recovery after the attack?

Answer: Let me be very clear – Baltimore City has remained operational and is open for business! We are in the process of restoring email and computer access to city employees. We are prioritizing public safety agencies and are working on other agencies simultaneously. A pilot was successfully implemented and we are rolling that solution out citywide. This is an ongoing process in our efforts to restore our network and applications in a safe and secure manner.

Question: What is the best way for people to get in contact with the city or access city services?

Answer: This week, most city employees will regain access to email. In the meantime, you can call us and we will be happy to assist you. To see a comprehensive list of city services and agency phone numbers you can go to Baltimore city dot G-O-V. At the top of the page there is a red box and in it there is a link that reads click here for information on Baltimore city services and contact numbers. I would also recommend all residents print this list out and store it in a safe place at home in case you are without internet access and need to contact the city in the future. And if you can’t find the agency or service you need on that list, call 3-1-1 and that can be accessed from 6am to 10pm 7 days a week.

Question: Which city services are still operational during the network outage?

Answer: All city services remain operational and Baltimore is open for business!

  • The Police Department and the Fire Department are still responding to calls for service.
  • The Health Department is continuing its Non-Emergency Medical Transportation, Animal Control, Environmental Inspection, and Disease Surveillance and Investigation Services.
  • Capital projects are on schedule, and repairs are being expedited. Trash, recycling, and bulk are being collected, drop-off yards are open and streets are being swept.
  • The traffic signals are still working and people can pay their parking, red light and speed camera violations.
  • We continue to recruit, hire and onboard new employees and we have been able to pay employees accurately.
  • All city workforce centers remain fully functional and open to the public. The YouthWorks team has been able to generate over 8,000 job opportunities for Baltimore youth. Notification of jobs will begin this week.
  • Recreation & Parks has numerous summer opportunities to keep our young people engaged and active. We have 43 recreation centers operational citywide. This Memorial Day, we opened all six park pools and on June 22, the remaining 22 community pools will open with The Big Splash.
  • And, you can still get your permits for work and licenses for properties, you just have to pay in person or mail in your payment.

Question: What do people do about their water bills while the system is down?

Answer: This might be the most frequently asked question by city and county residents. I want to assure everyone that our award-winning water is being processed constantly and sent to homes and businesses and our wastewater is being purified and returned in quality condition to the Chesapeake Bay. Water meters continue to collect data about your water consumption, but bills cannot be produced and mailed at this time. Please note that when we do send out bills they will cover a longer period of time than you are used to, and will be bigger than normal. Here are two options: You can still pay a typical bill amount each month, based on your own recent bills, with a check or money order and please include your account number on the check or money order when mailing in your payment. When billing service returns we will compare what you paid with what you actually owe and send a bill reflecting the difference. The other option is to simply set aside the amount you typically pay. That way you’ll have the money handy when you receive the bill. We will offer payment plans for customers who need assistance paying off the amount due. We are not assessing late fees for bills during this interruption. I encourage customers to estimate their water bill and continue to pay them monthly.

Question: Can people still apply online for permits to perform work on property, rental unit licenses and property registrations?

Answer: I know this has been a question for a lot of Baltimoreans, but let me be very clear – Baltimore City is and up and running and open for business! Yes, you can still get your permits and licenses during the City's network outage. In the case of permits, you can still apply for and receive the permit online and for licenses and registrations you can apply online but, in both cases, you will need to pay in person or mail in your payment as we cannot yet accept payments online.

Question: With the network outage will we be able to make payroll?

Answer: Another very important question on the minds of many Baltimoreans. The City of Baltimore's Department of Human Resources remains open for business to serve our agency customers and the general public. We have continued to recruit, hire and onboard new employees. We have been able to pay employees accurately based on their hours worked and related time records and will continue to do so. Employees have had access to Employee benefits and retirement services and learning and development activities have continued. 

Question: What do people who have parking violations do to clear the flags?

Answer: The Bureau of Revenue Collections has successfully recovered parking citation data allowing people to pay their fines in full. This resolves the issue some were facing with the renewal of their registration/license with the MVA. People should bring the following to Room 2 of the Abel Wolman Building:  

  • Proof of Ticket Date of Issuance
  • Proof of Original Fine Amount or Type

Examples of proof include: Citations, photos of citations, printouts from city bill-pay portal, past communications with the City or Bill Collections Requests. Once staff have confirmed the amount owed customers may make payment with either a certified check or money order. No cash payments will be accepted. If for any reason staff is unable to confirm the amount owed by the customer we are able to refer them to the MVA for a temporary registration.

Question: What do people do about property tax bills?

Answer: With July fast approaching I know some residents are concerned about what to do for property tax bills. We plan to issue the July Tax Bills on schedule.