Hackers freeze Mecklenburg County servers, demand $23000

Andrew Cummings
December 6, 2017

According to officials, the hackers said that if they pay up, they will release the decryption code so they can have the servers released and files returned.

County Manager Dena Diorio said that the hackers got into the county's system when an employee clicked on an email attachment they shouldn't have.

"She said an example of the problem is the county's code enforcement office, where much of the work is done electronically". Now that ransom price is being doubled as hackers have hit the Mecklenburg, North Carolina county government and are demanding 2 bitcoins. Diorio said regardless whether or not county officials pay the ransom, the incident won't be resolved for several days.

This is a developing story. Diorio described the ransomware used in the attack as a new strain. Multiple county services were affected as a result.

A couple county commissioners declined to talk about the attack, saying they don't fully understand the ins-and-outs of it. Commission Chair Ella Scarborough says she doesn't want the county to pay the ransom. The county was "open for business" but many operations had slowed, she added. (It's wonderful in this day and age that people still click on unusual email attachments.) Once the click took place, spyware and a worm were unleashed into the system, freezing all of the electronic files. Credit card information is not saved on servers.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, a Mecklenburg County source said the outage was "believed to be due to an external threat".

Although the deadline passed without a payment, the hackers apparently were taking no action as long as county officials were in communication with them through cybersecurity experts.

Diorio said a comprehensive list of the departments that will be moving to paper will be released Wednesday.

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

The county is working with a third-party technology company to figure out what to do. Charlotte officials say city government computers haven't been hacked.

Other reports by iNewsToday