Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Baltimore’s Bill for Ransomware: Over $18 Million, So Far

The city of Baltimore had many of its Windows computers infected by Ransomware, a type of malware that threatens to publish the victim’s data or to perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid. When a ransomware computer is used, a message similar to the following is displayed on the screen:

“The files on this computer have been encrypted. You have 96 hours to submit payment, otherwise your files will be permanently destroyed.”

The City of Baltimore refused to pay the ransom and has now spent more than $18 million of taxpayers’ money trying to restore or re-create the data. The City of Baltimore systems support folks still have not restored everything. All this is especially sad when you realize how easy it is to avoid ransomware attacks.

Are you prepared? If not, or if you don’t know, read How to Beat Ransomware: Prevent, Don’t React by Wendy Zamora at

Zamora’s article assumes that the reader is using the Microsoft Windows operating system. It points out that making frequent backups and storing them in a manner that the backups will not become infected allows the user to restore the encrypted files that were locked up by the ransomware. That’s a simple solution although it may take some time to diagnose the problem and then to restore the backed up files.

Actually, there’s simpler method: don’t use Windows!

To be sure, there is a Macintosh version of ransomware but it is rare. As stated by Keir Thomas at

“There have been a handful of Mac ransomware examples identified by security researchers to date, but not one has led to serious outbreaks and few, if any, Macs have been affected.”

Obviously, switching to a Macintosh will avoid almost all ransomware problems as well as most other forms of malware (malevolent software).

Mac users will “avoid almost all ransomware problems.” Many people, myself included, don’t like the words “avoid almost all ransomeware problems.” Instead, we want to avoid ALL such problems. In fact, that is also possible.

To avoid ALL ransomware problems, switch to Linux, UNIX, Chromebook, or Chromebox systems. So far, none of those operating systems have been infected by ransomware. In the case of Chromebox and Chromebook systems, the odds of ever having a ransomware infection in the future are remote. While nothing is ever perfect, the Chrome operating system has never been infected by malware.

Obviously, switching to an operating system that is not susceptible to ransomware or other malware isn’t cheap or easy. Not only will switching cost money for new hardware but user retraining will also be costly and time consuming. Still, switching now to more secure operating systems will avoid future headaches and even multi-million dollar expenses.

As the Fram Oil Filter commercial states, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.”

Categories: Viruses & Malware

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