Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

North Carolina County Refuses Ransom Demand

North Carolina County Refuses Ransom Demand

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.

"Based on our discussions with our attorney, there are a lot of places that pay, because it is easier to pay, it's cheaper to pay than to try to fix it on your own", she said. She said the county acted quickly to shut down services to prevent the spread of the virus after it was discovered.

"It's not that it's personal information, but it's information we need to do our business", County Manager Dena Diorio said of the information breached, Tuesday night.

The CIO pointed out that events similar to the hack in Mecklenburg County will continue to happen around the world, and require public officials to be continually on guard against cyberintruders.

Diorio said the county decided not to pay after consulting cyber security experts.

The exact financial impact to the county is unclear because the situation is still developing, Diehl said, but as officials inspect its hundreds of servers, they're giving priority to key areas. "There's multiple departments that are going back to old-school paper processes", county spokesman Danny Diehl said around 9:30 a.m.

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

County courts announced they were affected by the outage, as the disruption interfered with jury service. DSS is asking people with reservations to call the customer service line (704-336-4547) to confirm their reservations, through December 11.

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio told local media outlets that someone opened an email attachment they shouldn't have, helping the hacker gain entry to the system.

Diorio said regardless whether or not county officials pay the ransom, the incident won't be resolved for several days.

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

"The city has severed direct connection to Mecklenburg County systems, including email", D'Elosua Vastola said in the statement. "So while they've frozen the servers, they've not compromised the data and not stolen data, as far as we know at this point", Diorio said Tuesday. On Tuesday, employees couldn't print, call centers were down, and the code enforcement office had no access to electronic files stored on servers. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server.

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