This was the ransom note that confronted Baltimore officials on 7 May when hackers crippled government computers with a virus, taking the systems hostage. The crisis in Baltimore, where officials have refused to pay the $76,000 bitcoin ransom, follows similar incidents in Atlanta, Newark, San Diego and Los Angeles. Facebook Twitter Pinterest A sign referring to the hacked computer system of Baltimore is taped to a door near Baltimore city hall in Baltimore, Maryland. The mayor, Bernard “Jack” Young, has said the city would not pay the ransom, though at one point, he hinted he was was considering paying it to “move the city forward”. Without patches, hackers can break in and demand money, and if officials don’t have the data stored elsewhere, they have to choose between paying ransom or rebuilding systems. “Those who are unwilling to pay the price to upgrade systems and people … are going to pay the price one way or the other,” said Alan R Shark, executive director of Public Technology Institute, which provides consulting services to governments.