Mecklenburg County won't pay hacker, Kinston had previous ransomware attack

Hacker Attacks Mecklenburg County In North Carolina, Disrupt Services, Demands Ransom

Because of a backup system, the hack didn't compromise any personal information or delete any data.

She says the county consulted with cybersecurity experts before making the decision.

All county-wide ITS systems will be shut down until further notice, the county announced.

But WBTV has learned the demand is for "substantially" more than that, according to a county official with knowledge of the ongoing efforts to retrieve the county's data who asked not to be identified in order to provide details of the ongoing internal county discussions. "And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix", Dioro says.

Hackers were able to lock down several servers of a county government in North Carolina with ransomware this week, locking local officials out of computer systems that manage inmate populations, child support, and other social services.

"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.

During a Wednesday press conference on Facebook Live, the county manager stressed that while 48 of the county's 500 servers were impacted, as well as multiple applications that run through those servers, no sensitive or confidential information is believed to have been compromised.

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.

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Diorio said Mecklenburg County officials are considering paying the ransom but are also evaluating how much it would cost to decrypt the files themselves.

The officials also weighed whether any encryption key would actually work to unlock the servers and whether they would then be completely free of the ransomware. And the social services department is working to recreate its daily itinerary of 1,600 rides for elderly patients with medical appointments.

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

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

"The city has severed direct connection to Mecklenburg County systems, including email", D'Elosua Vastola said in the statement.

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.

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. Credit card information is not saved on servers.

This is a developing story.

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