Mecklenburg County server held for ransom

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

Charlotte officials say city government computers haven't been hacked. Bitcoin is a digital currency used around the world and favored by hackers because it can often be exchanged online anonymously.

County Manager Dena Diorio said a county employee clicked an attachment in an email that exposed the files to the hackers, WCNC-TV reported.

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. Last month, computer hackers targeted the Sacramento Regional Transit system, resulting in 30 million files being deleted. (It's incredible 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.

"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.

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

There's a risk you don't get the decryption key and don't get your files back.

Is It Cheaper to Pay the Ransom?

He said local governments are "easy targets" because they typically have older equipment and software than corporations or the federal government. On the other hand, hackers may not handover the key to unlock the files and come back for more money. The county is reportedly considering whether to pay the hacker.

We need to determine how much it would cost (to pay) versus fixing it on our own.

The short deadline is obviously putting pressure on the country commissioners to capitulate to the hackers. On Tuesday, employees couldn't print, call centers were down, and the code enforcement office had no access to electronic files stored on servers.

"Things that we were doing electronically, we are now moving to paper", Diorio said. "I think we do everything we can to keep our firewall secure", she said.

Images courtesy of Wikipedia and Pixabay.

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