NC county weighs paying cyber hackers $26K ransom for servers held hostage

Hackers freeze Mecklenburg County servers, demand $23000

Hackers freeze Mecklenburg County servers, demand $23000

County Manager Dena Diorio joins host Mike Collins with the latest on Mecklenburg County's ransomware attack. and Todd Moss, once the top U.S. diplomat in West Africa, talks about his experiences and diplomacy, as well as his series of fictional worldwide thrillers inspired by his diplomatic work.

Mecklenburg County officials say that a hacker is seeking a ransom of more than $23,000 after freezing county computer files.

Diorio told WSOC-TV that she doesn't believe the hackers have access to personal information.

County officials initially reported a computer system outage on Tuesday, after which it was revealed that hackers had breached the county's computer system and was holding it for ransom, demanding $23,000 be paid in bitcoin.

This is a developing story.

County services ranging from transportation to Medicaid patients to processing of arrestees have been slowed as employees use manual instead of computer-based controls. (It's unbelievable in this day and age that people still click on odd email attachments.) Once the click took place, spyware and a worm were unleashed into the system, freezing all of the electronic files.

At least 48 servers were hacked during the incident, Diorio said during the media briefing.

"If you pay the bitcoin, there is always a risk they won't give you the encryption key", she said.

Mecklenburg, with Charlotte as the county seat, serves more than 1 million people as the state's most populous county.

Ransomware being used in Mecklenburg County computers is new. Hackers were able to freeze servers that prevented county officials from accessing information stored on them.

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

Diorio said a comprehensive list of the departments that will be moving to paper will be released Wednesday. Of course, as Diorio mentioned above, paying off a hacker could embolden them to attack you again.

Diorio is now working with a "third party forensic expert" to navigate the county's next steps.

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