NC county's servers held for ransom by hackers

Micah Smith | WBTV

The hackers holding Mecklenburg County's computer files hostage in exchange for payment are demanding substantially more money than first reported, WBTV has learned.

Diorio told Channel 9 that someone opened an email they shouldn't have opened, which helped the hacker infiltrate the system and cause a countywide outage.

"We've been told by [the hackers] we need to pay two bitcoin, or $23,000 for them to give us the de-encryption to have the servers released and the files returned to us", says Diorio.

Diorio said she doesn't believe the hackers have access to personal information.

She says it's her call whether to pay them and she's debating doing that.

I don't think we were targeted.

Mecklenburg County says this will affect the ability to conduct business at most county offices and say there is now no estimated time for the system to be back on line.

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Each County department is activating its Continuity Of Operations Plan, which is created to address situations like this.

"Our advice to folks is if planning to come and do business with the county and go to Code Enforcement, for example, they should call in advance and make sure that we're going to be available".

The county is composing a list of all services that it won't be able to be offered because of the hack.

At that time, Chaney said the county has fallen victim to six ransomware attacks in her 13 years on the job here.

Federal and local authorities were not involved in the investigation Tuesday night.

To deny the county access to its files, a ransomware was used by the hacker and a coin-miner program was installed. However, in most such cases, it's reported that hackers simply wish to get paid without risking their criminal career by further meddling. Instead, it wiped the entire computer system and reset it, which almost two weeks, CNN reported.

WSOC reporter Joe Bruno tweeted that it is unclear where the attack originated, but the hackers are in a time zone seven hours ahead of Charlotte, which would include Russian Federation, where cybercrime is frequently based.

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