Bitcoin Ransomware Siege: Google Disables Baltimore’s Gmail During $100,000 Standoff

Mark Emem

By CCN: The city of Baltimore has suffered a blow in its bid to keep operations running amidst a bitcoin ransom attack that has crippled critical services.

Per The Baltimore Sun, city officials had created Gmail accounts in the wake of ransomware attackers demanding $100,000 in Bitcoin. This was after the official email addresses were knocked out. However, on Thursday the free email accounts that the city officials created were disabled.

When trying to send emails to the Gmail accounts belonging to the city officials the sender would get the following message: “The email account that you tried to reach is disabled.”

Google Deems Bulk Creation of Gmail Accounts Suspicious

A Google spokesperson explained that this occurred because the automated security system of the tech giant had been triggered. This was after the ‘bulk creation of multiple consumer Gmail accounts from the same network’. Google’s automated security system normally flags such activity because it might be exploited to commit fraud or send spam. Google has since then restored access to Gmail to the affected Baltimore city officials.

The incident occurred as the ransomware attack approaches its third week. The ransomware known as RobbinHood seized control of around 10,000 computers belonging to the city on May 7.

Besides knocking out the email addresses, the ransomware attack resulted in the online payment system getting shut down. Property deed applications in the city were also hampered. The hackers demanded Bitcoin worth $100,000. At current prices that’s about 12.55 Bitcoin.

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