North Carolina County Refuses Ransom Demand

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North Carolina County Refuses Ransom Demand

County manager Dena Diorio said late Wednesday that the county will not pay the $23,000 demanded by the hacker believed to be in Ukraine or Iran.

"I am confident that our backup data is secure and we have the resources to fix this situation ourselves", said Diorio. "It will take time, but with patience and hard work, all of our systems will be back up and running as soon as possible".

"We are open for business and we are slow, but the good news is that based on what we know today, there's no indication that any data has actually been lost, or personal or health information has been compromised", Diorio said then, noting that it may be several days before a "methodical, detailed review of all servers" is complete and services are completely restored.

Diorio said county electronic files have essentially been frozen after the attack that started when a county employee opened an email attachment carrying malicious software.

An expert on cyber security told The Associated Press that it's not uncommon for municipalities to be hacked with ransomware.

WBTV says county officials were considering whether to pay the ransom.

According to county officials, all of the information technology service systems in the county are shut down, impacting email, printing and business at most county offices.

The computer problems haven't affected the processing of emergency calls because they are handled by the city, said Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anjanette Flowers Grube. "And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix", Dioro says.

Authorities in a North Carolina county say its servers have been hacked and are being held for ransom.

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

During a speaking engagement at Charlotte's Kennedy Middle School, Governor Roy Cooper said the county did the right thing by not paying the ransom.

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

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

Mecklenburg, with Charlotte as the county seat, serves more than 1 million people as the state's most populous county. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server. The hackers' threat isn't to publish the files, but to keep them inaccessible.

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