NC county's servers held for ransom by hackers

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Mecklenburg County is experiencing a county-wide computer system outage, impacting business at most county offices.

As of late Wednesday morning, county staff was working to determine whether the hacker was demanding two bitcoins for the information on each of the 30 servers or whether the demand was for two bitcoin for each file on the 30 servers. "So while they've frozen the servers, they've not compromised the data and not stolen data, as far as we know at this point", Diorio said Tuesday.

Mecklenburg County, North Carolina will not pay "ransomware criminals $23,000 to unlock numerous county's applications that have been frozen since Monday", county officials said in a release Wednesday afternoon.

They've demanded a ransom of $23,000 in the electronic currency Bitcoin in exchange for unlocking the data. There's also no guarantee hackers will give the decryption code once they receive the money.

The North Carolina cyberattack has caused delays for the Mecklenburg County jail and disrupted other county services ranging from domestic violence counseling to tax collection. Law enforcement is not involved at this time.

During a press conference Wednesday, Diorio reiterated that no personal information of county workers or customers was compromised by the hackers, which has affected 48 of 500 servers.

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She said in a statement, "I am confident that our backup data is secure and we have the resources to fix the situation ourselves". The problem started when a county employee clicked on an email attachment that unleashed malicious software onto the county servers.

The county of more than 1 million residents includes North Carolina's largest city, Charlotte, though that municipality appears not to have been directly affected by the hack.

The county backs up all files, so getting the information now frozen is not a big concern.

Officials say they have no idea who the hackers are and no way to track them down.

Officials planned to release a list of services later Wednesday that are affected by the cyberattack - and decide whether to pay ransom sought by the unknown attackers. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server.

Things may also take longer at county offices because until the issue is resolved because they will be doing things on paper instead of electronically.

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