NC county computer hackers demanding 'substantially' more than first reported

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Mecklenburg County, North Carolina will not pay "ransomware criminals $23,000 to unlock numerous county's applications that have been frozen since Monday", county officials said in a release Wednesday afternoon.

"It will take time, but with patience and hard work, all of our systems will be back up and running as soon as possible", Diorio added.

In a statement from the county she says, "I am confident that our backup data is secure and we have the resources to fix this situation ourselves", said Diorio. But despite the outages, the county isn't planning to pay the $23,000 ransom demanded by the hackers. Diorio said it would have taken days to restore the county's computer system even if officials paid off the person controlling the ransomware, so the decision won't significantly lengthen the timeframe.

But officials said December 6 that the county will not pay the more than $23,000 ransom.

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

The computer problems haven't affected the processing of emergency calls because they are handled by the city, said Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anjanette Flowers Grube.

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Deputies processed arrests by hand and building code officers used paper records Wednesday as one of North Carolina's largest counties considered how to respond to a hacker who froze county servers and is demanding ransom.

Things may also take longer at county offices because until the issue is resolved because they will be doing things on paper instead of electronically. "And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix". "We really don't want people to just show up and then get mad when we can't help them", Diehl said.

"If you pay the bitcoin, there is always a risk they won't give you the encryption key", she told reporters. It also contained an email address and instructions on how to pay the ransom.

The attack happened when a county employee opened an email attachment that infected the county's computer system with spyware and a worm.

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. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server.

This is a developing story.

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