NC county's servers held for ransom by hackers

Security Breach

Mecklenburg County officials say that it could take days to restore compromised computer systems from backup data after they refused to pay ransom to a hacker. The news release indicated the agency consulted "multiple" cybersecurity experts.

The compromised servers have been quarantined, and even potentially healthy parts of the system were shut down to avoid spreading the malicious program, said Keith Gregg, the county's chief information officer. "And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix", Dioro says.

Hackers are holding county office servers for ransom in the most populous county in North Carolina.

"It was going to take nearly as long to fix the system after paying the ransom as it does to fix it ourselves", she said.

At this point, officials don't believe any information has been stolen, but malware was discovered on about 30 servers.

Thomas says they have all the security layers needed to prevent these cyber attacks, but says it's always possible they could be a hacker's next target.

"It was going to take nearly as long to fix the system after paying the ransom as it does to fix it ourselves", she said. Diorio said officials believe the hackers are from Iran or Ukraine.

Big changes coming; Hours away from Arctic air arriving
For now, I'm going to include the possibility of a few rain showers locally, with a few snow showers possible north of our area. High temperatures on Monday and Tuesday will be above average for this time of the year.

The exact financial impact to the county is unclear because the situation is still developing, Diehl said, but as officials inspect its hundreds of servers, they're giving priority to key areas.

Each department is activating plans to continue operating during the outage, the county said.

The county manager said that contrary to erroneous reports, the hackers are only demanding $23,000 in ransom to release the data - but the process of establishing a cryptocurrency account and using it to meet the demands could take several days. And the social services department is working to recreate its daily itinerary of 1,600 rides for elderly patients with medical appointments.

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

It was an email with just such an attachment that was opened earlier this week by a county employee that triggered the freeze on much of the county's computer system.

Meanwhile, payments to the tax office must be made with a check, cash or money order, and code inspectors have been slowed down by having to use paper records, according to a list of affected services. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server. On Tuesday, employees couldn't print, call centers were down, and the code enforcement office had no access to electronic files stored on servers.

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