Civic News

Google regrants access to Baltimore workers’ temporary Gmail accounts shut off during ransomware recovery

The Gmail accounts were restored Thursday afternoon.

An early Google self-driving car.

(Photo by Flickr user Travis Wise, used under Creative Commons license)

Correction: Google did not instruct the city to pay for Gmail. The accounts were shut off by an automated security system due to the creation of a large number of new accounts. (4:25 p.m., 5/28/19)

After Gmail accounts being used by city officials following this month’s cyber attack were shut down Thursday, Google has restored access.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun, city officials resorted to using the Gmail accounts because they lack access to email while many IT systems are shut down. But Google shut off access to the email addresses on Thursday morning, citing that the large amount of new accounts were flagged by Google’s automated security system.

So, city workers seeking to recover from the attack and continue working once again lost access to email. And on top of that, it appeared that they wanted payment to regain access. Of course, a demand for payment is part of how all of this started when the city was hit with a ransomware attack on May 7.

By afternoon, however, Google tweeted from a communications handle that the accounts were restored. The company said its automated systems were to blame.

“We have restored access to the Gmail accounts for the Baltimore city officials. Our automated security systems disabled the accounts due to the bulk creation of multiple consumer Gmail accounts from the same network,” the company tweeted from a communications account.

It’s been more than two weeks since the attack was discovered. While emergency services are still up and running, many IT systems remain down as a result of the attack. This resulted in an in-person workarounds to complete real estate transactions and pay water bills while other business is being conducted in “manual mode.” Officials have indicated it could take months to recover.


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