6/3/2019
04:55 PM
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Baltimore Ransomware Attacker Was Behind Now-Suspended Twitter Account

Researchers at Armor were able to confirm the person or persons behind a Twitter account that appeared to be leaking confidential files was the actual ransomware attacker that hit the city.



A now-suspended Twitter account that taunted and warned the mayor of Baltimore to pay the ransom for the city's hijacked servers has been confirmed to be that of the actual attacker who launched the May 7 ransomware campaign on the city.

Researchers at security firm Armor who have been investigating the documents leaked via the now-defunct account — which was suspended by Twitter this afternoon after posting a tweet riddled with obscenities — earlier told Dark Reading they had suspected the account was run by the actual attacker. 

Now they say they can confirm it was, indeed, that of the attacker after he or she posted the attack panel interface used to communicate with the city in the wake of the attack, which locked down Baltimore's servers with the so-called Robbinhood ransomware.

Eric Sifford, Armor security researcher, and Joe Stewart, an independent security researcher working on behalf of Armor said in a statement of their tying the attacker to the Twitter account: "We believe that when the Baltimore hacker posted, verbatim, the last two tweets from the Robbinhood Twitter profile into the ransomware panel (which is specific only to the city of Baltimore) that the attacker(s) had totally lost their patience and was fed up with anyone questioning their validity and capability to decrypt the city’s data."

The attacker today via the Twitter account also warned that the city had until June 7 to pay the ransom of $17,600 in bitcoin per system — a total of about $76,280 — even though the original ransom note said the data would no longer be recoverable after 10 days.

The city had vowed not to pay the ransom, although Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young hinted last week that paying was not out of the question. The attack is estimated to have cost the city around $18.2 million, according to the city budget office.

Efforts to reach the mayor's office have been unsuccessful. 

The Robbinhood attacker's Twitter account first appeared on May 12, posting what it claimed was a screenshot of sensitive documents and user credentials from the city of Baltimore. The data still has not fully recovered from the ransomware attack, which disrupted everything from real estate transactions awaiting deeds, bill payments for residents, and services such as email and telecommunications. Email remains down for most city operations.

Armor initially said the account could either have been the real attacker, a city employee, someone with access to the documents — or a hoax. 

The same ransomware recently hit the city of Greenville, N.C., as well as several power companies in India last month, according to Armor.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio
 

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