Hackers hold NC county's computers ransom for 2 bitcoins

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio talked to reporters Wednesday about this week's hacker attack on county servers

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio talked to reporters Wednesday about this week's hacker attack on county servers. David Boraks WFAE

In September, it happened to Montgomery County, Alabama, and it paid thousands of dollars in ransom to hackers in order to recover stolen government data, according to the political website The Hill.

"Our advice to folks is if planning to come and do business with the county and go to Code Enforcement, for example, they should call in advance and make sure that we're going to be available".

"We've been told by [the hackers] we need to pay two bitcoin, or $23,000 for them to give us the de-encryption to have the servers released and the files returned to us", says Diorio.

County Manager Dena Dioro believes no personal data, like social security numbers or health information, have been compromised. County-wide system outages were reported since Tuesday afternoon.

To solve the problem, the county has enlisted experts who pointed out that more often than not, cities or business establishments whose files or computer systems were compromised end up paying the ransom. If so, the county may be able to access the files quickly.

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"We don't believe we were targeted", Diorio told the station.

The county is working with a third-party technology company to figure out what to do.

That list will be released Wednesday.

Federal and local authorities were not involved in the investigation Tuesday night.

Mecklenburg County officials say that the hacking has affected its computer system and that a hacker is seeking a ransom of more than $23,000.

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There's a risk you don't get the decryption key and don't get your files back. "There's also the chance if they think you'll pay, they may try to get you to come back again". Is it actually cheaper to pay the hackers off to once again have access to critical files? While paying the ransom may be the only way to obtain the decryption key, there is no guarantee the hackers will honor their commitment and provide the key.

The computer systems of the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, were taken offline by a hacker.

Vice Chair Jim Puckett said that the hackers are likely to comply because it makes them look more credible in future attacks. "We really don't want people to just show up and then get mad when we can't help them", Diehl said.

Chairwoman of the Board Ella Scarborough disagrees and thinks the county shouldn't engage in the talks.

She says it's her call whether to pay them and she's debating doing that.

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