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The City Of Baltimore Has Been Taken Over By Hackers Using NSA Tools

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Hackers have recently taken over the computer systems for the City of Baltimore. Many of the City’s operations have been at a standstill for weeks as officials scramble to find a solution.

The hackers are demanding that the city pay a ransom in order to regain control of the network. The ransom started at 13 Bitcoin, which is roughly $100,000 at its current price. However, the hackers said that the city will owe an additional $10,000 for every day after the deadline.

The attack occurred at the beginning of this month, on May 7th. In a ransom note, the hackers gave a deadline of May 17th.

“We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!” the ransom note read.

Basic Services Frozen

In the attack, the hackers managed to seize 10,000 of the city’s most vital systems. Once they had control of the network, the hackers were able to put a freeze on basic city services.

The hackers locked the city out of email and voicemail, so city employees set up Gmail accounts as an alternative. The employees were locked out of their Gmail accounts as well, since all of their addresses were marked as spam.

In a later statement, Google explained that this was a glitch in their automated systems.

“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 statement read.

For the past month, Baltimore residents couldn’t pay their bills, and city employees were unable to log into their accounts.

Will The City Pay The Ransom?

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, initially said that the city is working to restore their networks. Young also said that the FBI is assisting the city in the investigation.

“The restoration efforts also require that we rebuild certain systems to make sure that when we restore business functions. We are doing so in a secure manner,” Young said.

Young initially said that the city would not consider paying the ransom under any circumstances. The mayor said that to pay the ransom would be like “rewarding bank robbers for robbing banks.”

However, it seems that now the city may be desperate and running out of options. In an interview this week, the mayor revealed that he is thinking about paying the ransom.

“To move the city forward, I might think about it,” Young said.

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A view of Downtown Baltimore / Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

NSA Tools

According to a report from the New York Times this week, the hackers carried out the attack using an NSA hacking tool. The tool is called EternalBlue and it was initially developed by the NSA before hackers leaked it to the public.

After hackers used the tools in various cyber attacks, Microsoft blamed the NSA for the crisis. Microsoft said that the agency had a practice of “stockpiling vulnerabilities,” which prevented companies from patching their software.

Previous Hack

In a separate attack last year, Hackers shut down Baltimore’s 911 systems for an entire day. Hackers carried out a similar attack in Atlanta around the same time. In fact, this is a problem that cities all over the country are currently facing. Baltimore is just one of over 20 different cities that hackers have hit with cyber attacks in the past year.

Outdated Technology

Most of these exploits wouldn’t work on your personal computer because only older systems are vulnerable to them. The various cities that have been experiencing cyber attacks are obviously on very outdated systems.

The EternalBlue exploit targets a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows XP and Vista systems, which are generations behind most consumers.

According to a recent report from WeLiveSecurity, “there are currently almost a million machines in the wild using the obsolete SMB v1 protocol.”

“Poor security practices and lack of patching are likely reasons why malicious use of the EternalBlue exploit has been growing continuously since the beginning of 2017, when it was leaked online,” the report continued.

Since businesses and governments rarely update their systems, many high-profile targets are currently at risk.

Baltimore officials are currently using manual workarounds to complete real estate deals, but many of the city’s services are no longer functional.

Susan Claire graduated with a degree in microbiology from Ohio State University. Now she lives on the road, in a constant state of travel between research projects and studies. In her free time, she likes to write articles about the most cutting edge inventions, and most recent developments in science.

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Nancy Pelosi Reelected As House Speaker In Narrow Vote

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Nancy Pelosi won another term as Speaker of the House of Representatives on Sunday, after a narrow vote.

80-year-old Pelosi will hold the position for a second consecutive two-year term and fourth overall, having previously been elected in 2007, 2009 and 2019.

Pelosi has served as a US representative from California since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party, she is the only woman in U.S. history to serve as Speaker and, until the inauguration of Kamala Harris as Vice President, is the highest-ranking female elected official in United States history.

As House speaker, Pelosi is second in the presidential line of succession, after the vice president.

During her first speakership, she was instrumental in the passage of many of the Obama administration’s landmark bills, including the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the 2010 Tax Relief Act.

Pelosi lost the speakership in 2011 after the Republican Party won a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections.

She retained her role as leader of the House Democratic Caucus and returned to the role of House minority leader. In the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats regained control of the House.

When the 116th Congress convened on January 3, 2019, Pelosi was again elected speaker, becoming the first former speaker to return to the post since Sam Rayburn in 1955.

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Under Pelosi’s leadership, the House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump on December 18, 2019.

Despite supporting the $2000 checks for struggling Americans, Pelosi, along with everyone in congress have provoked anger from citizens who see them as being out of touch with the average people.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) estimated in 2009 that Pelosi’s average net worth was $58 million which ranks her 13th among 25 wealthiest members of Congress.

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Roll Call said Pelosi’s earnings are connected to her husband’s heavy investments in stocks that include Apple, Disney, Comcast, and Facebook. Roll Call reported that the Pelosis have $13.46 million in liabilities including mortgages on seven properties.

According to Roll Call, Pelosi and her husband hold properties “worth at least $14.65 million, including a St. Helena vineyard in Napa Valley worth at least $5 million, and commercial real estate in San Francisco”.

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FAA Responds To Numerous Reports Of A UFO Over Hawaii

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The FAA was notified after multiple people reported seeing an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) in the sky over Leeward Oahu on Tuesday evening. Witnesses all over the region called into 911 at around 8:30 p.m.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration said that there were no aircraft incidents or accidents in this area at the time of the reports, but multiple witnesses reported seeing a large blue object fall out of the sky and into the ocean.

Some of the witnesses managed to get video or photos of the incident.

Witness Misitina Sape told Hawaii News Now she captured a photo of the object at 8:26 p.m. near Haleakala Avenue in Nanakuli.

Another witness named Moriah said she had never been a believer in UFOs until she saw the object fall from the sky.

“I started calling my husband and them because they were all in the garage. I was like hey. Come look up there. See if you see what I see. They all said yea!” Moriah said.

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They jumped in the car to follow the object and see what it was.

“I don’t know what it was,” she said. “This one was going so fast.”

About three miles down the road, they saw the object fall into the water.

She said that it was larger than a telephone pole but didn’t make any sound when it hit the ground.

“We called 911,” Moriah said, “For have like one cop or somebody for come out and come check em out.

She also says that they saw another light in the sky after the blue object fell into the water. She says that police saw the second light as well.

“My husband went look up and he seen the white one coming,” she said. “The white one was smaller. Was coming in the same direction as the blue one.”

FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said the agency received a report from police Tuesday night about a possible plane down in the area “but had no aircraft disappear off radars. And no reports of overdue or missing aircraft.”

Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced the formation of a new task force that will be studying UFOs or “Unidentified Flying Objects.”

The formation of this new task force was revealed last year when the Pentagon acknowledged that military pilots were encountering aircraft that might not have been made by humans.

The new task force was officially revealed to the public after the Pentagon released declassified videos that appeared to show government aircraft interacting with UFOs in the sky.

One of the videos, taken from US Navy aircraft, seems to show the pilots chasing a UFO off the east coast of the United States.

Navy pilots reported spotting the objects flying around 30,000 feet in the air at hypersonic speeds and showing no visible engines or exhaust plumes typical of any known aircraft currently on Earth.

The new agency has been called, The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF).

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Mitch McConnell’s House Vandalized Over $2,000 Checks

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had his home vandalized this week, after blocking the vote to increase stimulus payments to $2,000.

Messages like ‘WERES MY MONEY’ and ‘MITCH K1LLS THE POOR.’ were spray-painted on the building.

Police said that they don’t have any suspects.

On Saturday, McConnell released a statement to the Louisville Courier Journal which read: “Vandalism and the politics of fear have no place in our society. My wife and I have never been intimidated by this toxic playbook. We just hope our neighbors in Louisville aren’t too inconvenienced by this radical tantrum.”

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In 2015, Time listed McConnell as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. McConnell is the longest-serving U.S. senator for Kentucky in history, and the longest-serving leader of U.S. Senate Republicans in history.

During the Trump administration, Senate Republicans, under McConnell’s leadership, broke records on the number of judicial nominees confirmed. Among those nominees were Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh who were recently confirmed to the Supreme Court.

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McConnell’s critics have called him by a variety of different nicknames, including “Moscow Mitch”, “Cocaine Mitch”, the “Grim Reaper”, “Darth Vader”, “Rich Mitch”, “Nuclear Mitch”, and “Midnight Mitch.” On some occasions, he has even embraced these nicknames, although he was apparently unhappy with the more recent “Moscow Mitch.”

McConnell has a net worth of $35 million dollars, and many Americans feel that he is out of touch. He isn’t the only US politician that was a target for vandalism this week.

 

According to a report from TMZ this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had her house vandalized with a pig’s head and fake blood.

Spray painted in black on the white garage door were the messages “$2K,”  an apparent reference to the $2,000 COVID stimulus checks that have been held up in the U.S. Senate, as well as “CANCEL RENT!” and “WE WANT EVERYTHING!”

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