Google shuts down Baltimore officials' Gmail accounts amid ransomware attack

Baltimore city officials that turned to Gmail accounts as a workaround after being hit with a ransomware attack May 7 had their email accounts disabled by Google, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Google said it shut down the Gmail accounts due to the large number of new accounts that city officials had created. The company has an automated security system that triggered the shutdown, a spokesperson from Google told The Baltimore Sun.

When city officials tried to email one another, they received the message: “The email account that you tried to reach is disabled.” The Gmail accounts have been restored as of May 22. A Google spokesperson said the automated security system “disabled the accounts due to the build creation of multiple consumer Gmail accounts from the same network.”  

Baltimore city officials have been locked out of records, which has halted its online payment system. Hackers are demanding an unknown payment through the digital currency bitcoin.

It could take months to recover all the files, as the city does not plan to pay the ransom. Baltimore has contacted forensic teams and the FBI to investigate.

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