Hackers shut down Mecklenburg County servers, demand $23K ransom

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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. A 1 p.m. deadline set by hackers has passed, but Diorio says talks with the hacker continue.

Officials in North Carolina's Mecklenburg County were in touch with hackers, believed to be from Iran or Ukraine, and planned to decide Wednesday evening whether to pay them $26,000 to win the release of multiple files held hostage on county servers.

Bitcoin transactions are private, so they are the favored payment method of cyber criminals, including those that targeted the county. Typically, the code can only be obtained by paying the hackers. Last month, computer hackers targeted the Sacramento Regional Transit system, resulting in 30 million files being deleted.

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Ransomware is the malicious worm that an unsuspecting county employee unleashed by opening an email attachment.

"The important thing is that nobody's personal information or health information has been compromised as far as we know at this point".

County Manager Dena Dioro believes no personal data, like social security numbers or health information, have been compromised.

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If you're planning on heading to a county office for business purposes, you need to contact the office ahead of time to make sure you can be helped, county officials said.

There's a risk you don't get the decryption key and don't get your files back. What is concerning officials is verifying the servers are secure enough to bring back online.

The hack caused issues with call centers, code enforcement applications, and a variety of county systems that are used to provide services to people in the county. On Wednesday, Diorio expects to release a list of services that are unavailable because of the attack.

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Diorio said all servers were operating, but information on scheduled medical trips by some 300 patients were lost and a domestic violence hotline was sending calls directly to voicemail.

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