Hackers freeze Mecklenburg County servers, demand $23000

Hackers Hold Local Government Computers for Ransom and Demand Two Bitcoin

Many county services remained disrupted as local officials in North Carolina work to restore computer systems after a cyberattack.

The county issued a statement on Twitter Wednesday asking residents to contact county offices before visiting to see whether they are offering services.

But officials said December 6 that the county will not pay the more than $23,000 ransom.

County Manager Dina Diorio first confirmed to reporters Tuesday night that county 30 servers were being held for ransom.

Many county-run services have been delayed. Diorio said it would have taken days to restore the county's computer system even if officials paid off the person controlling the ransomware, so the decision won't significantly lengthen the timeframe.

The ransomware was quickly spotted and isolated, but still affected 48 of the county's 500 servers, Diorio said. After the attack, the county disconnected most computer applications. Diorio said, for example, that the county's code enforcement office would have to rely on paper records until the outage is fixed because employees there can't access the electronic files they normally rely on.

"Unfortunately, it's become all too common", said Lawrence Abrams, who runs the cyber security site bleepingcomputer.com. It also contained an email address and instructions on how to pay the ransom. "In paying these ransoms, it's obviously encouraging others". The county is reportedly considering whether to pay the hacker.

Other public organizations have chosen to rebuild instead of paying hackers. But transit officials didn't pay a ransom.

"It was going to take nearly as long to fix the system after paying the ransom as it does to fix it ourselves", she said. He said he was told the county hopes to fix the problem "this week".

Although the deadline passed without a payment, the hackers apparently were taking no action as long as county officials were in communication with them through cybersecurity experts. "Overall, this is not as bad of a story as it could have been".

"The city has severed direct connection to Mecklenburg County systems, including email", D'Elosua Vastola said in the statement. The hack is forcing employees to handle many tasks manually.

"We are open for business and we are slow, but the good news is that based on what we know today, there's no indication that any data has actually been lost, or personal or health information has been compromised", Diorio said then, noting that it may be several days before a "methodical, detailed review of all servers" is complete and services are completely restored.

Immediately after the hack, the county shutdown their online and computer systems to prevent further contamination of their files on additional servers.

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