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As Ransom Deadline Nears, Baltimore City Continues To Struggle For Fix

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The crippling cybersecurity attack on Baltimore City enters its ninth day, as city officials continue to say they can't say much about the investigation.

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

Hackers are demanding a ransom from Baltimore City, and have warned the City would lose its data after 10 days.

The deadline is on Friday.

"I think if they delete data, we're going to be in a world of hurt," said Chris Sachse, ThinkStack.

Sachse is the CEO at ThinkStack, a Baltimore cybersecurity firm.

He said if the hackers have access to any backup systems, it could mean trouble.

"It's still somewhat of an active crime scene, so they're trying to follow the bread crumbs to see who did this," Sachse said.

Wednesday afternoon, officials struggled to answer questions regarding the city's preparation for a cyber attack like this, any contact with the hackers and who the city has hired to help them recover.

"Honestly, a lot of the lack of transparency is that they don't' know," Sachse said.

Experts claim hackers demanded 13 bitcoins within 10 days, which totals up to $100,000.

But that demand would keep going up every day after four days.

"It's a fairly reasonable amount of money in the grand scheme of things to ask from a city," Sachse said.

However, paying would not guarantee a solution.

"You have no idea if that hacker is going to give you what you need. Are they going to give you that decyrption key? If they give you the decyrption key, is it going to work?"

"How much money are going to spend to try to decrypt these passwords and how much risk are we willing to take that the guy won't delete those files? To me, for 70 thousand, now 100 thousand, I would pay that." Sachse said.

The ransomware struck citywide, but particularly the City Finance Department.

Online billing remains down as does the ability to close real estate transactions, no title searches, no lien certificates.

"It will get resolved. It has to be resolved. There's no way we can avoid that." said Bob Flynn, In-House Title Co.'s attorney.

In the only timeline to which officials Wednesday would commit, they said they hope the lien system will be up late next week.

Sachse said even if the city pays the ransom, which Mayor Jack Young said he won't do, there is still no way of knowing whether other malware may be in the system- meaning the investigation and recovery would still be slow and intensive.

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