Meck Co officials will not pay hackers ransom for servers being held

Javier Stokes
December 8, 2017

Deputies were processing jail inmates by hand and building code inspectors switched to paper records after a county employee unleashed the malicious software earlier this week by opening an email attachment. "And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix", Diorio said in a statement.

All county-wide ITS systems will be shut down until further notice, the county announced. Diorio said no personal information was compromised during the hack.

In the past, the city has been hit by cyber attacks, but officials say they have always been able to get everything back up and running pretty quickly.

It is still not clear whether the county will pay the ransom. 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.

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.

"We're continuing to try and manage as best we can".

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.

"Our priorities are going to be systems that affect health and human services, like the Department of Social Services, Health Services, Child Support Services", Diehl said.

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It will take days to restore Mecklenburg County's computer system, local officials said, leaving residents in North Carolina's most populous metro area facing delays or disruptions to county services.

An email attachment opened by a county employee Tuesday initiated the attack.

The unknown hackers gave the county a deadline of 1 p.m. today to pay a $23,000 Bitcoin ransom to regain access to the files, which are locked by the hackers' encryption.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's office also was affected.

During a Wednesday press conference on Facebook Live, the county manager stressed that while 48 of the county's 500 servers were impacted, as well as multiple applications that run through those servers, no sensitive or confidential information is believed to have been compromised. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server.

The hack caused issues with call centers, code enforcement applications, and a variety of county systems that are used to provide services to people in the county.

This is a developing story.

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