Files being held for ransom by hackers

Jon Howard
December 8, 2017

"It will take time, but with patience and hard work, all of our systems will be back up and running as soon as possible". All county-wide Information Technology Services were shut down until further notice.

Diorio said the county decided not to pay after consulting cyber security experts.

"If we don't pay, we will have to rebuild applications from scratch and that will take even longer", Diorio said. "And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix", Diorio said in a statement.

Updated 4:03 p.m.

At least two county commissioners said they had not been briefed on the additional information regarding the actual total of the ransom when contacted by WBTV on Wednesday morning. Diorio said the attack is affecting many county services. Describing county services, she said: "We are slower, but we are up and running". In the meantime, county officials have been forced to revert to paper systems. The attachment contained a "worm" that began encrypting the county's files.

The CIO pointed out that events similar to the hack in Mecklenburg County will continue to happen around the world, and require public officials to be continually on guard against cyberintruders. The hack is forcing employees to handle many tasks manually. "So that's the conversation that we are continuing to have".

"We can't fall prey to these scam artists and people who want to hold governments hostage", Cooper said.

But Flowers Grube said the problems don't extend to processing emergency calls, which is handled by the city of Charlotte.

Hacker Attacks Mecklenburg County In North Carolina, Disrupt Services, Demands Ransom

County courts announced they were affected by the outage, as the disruption interfered with jury service.

"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.

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.

He said it's not unusual for businesses and local governments to pay the ransom.

Diorio said Mecklenburg County officials are considering paying the ransom but are also evaluating how much it would cost to decrypt the files themselves. Officials are working with a consultant to come up with a plan. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server.

At this point, officials don't believe any information has been stolen, but malware was discovered on about 30 servers. After the attack, the county disconnected most computer applications. The hackers' threat isn't to publish the files, but to keep them inaccessible.

This is a developing story.

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