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

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

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.

According to WBTV, the county was experiencing a county-wide computer system outage Tuesday afternoon.

County Manager Dena Diorio said that the hackers got into the county's system when an employee clicked on an email attachment they shouldn't have.

At that time, Chaney said the county has fallen victim to six ransomware attacks in her 13 years on the job here. Though employees would be coming to work, Diorio said that if anyone wished to do any business with the Mecklenburg County, they would need to wait.

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.

The shutdown has affected email, printing and other county applications and disrupted routine business at most county offices, WSOC-TV reported.

Each County department is activating its Continuity Of Operations Plan, which is created to address situations like this.

A question that this scenario brings up is whether the county government remains functional in the short run, given how many jobs are reliant on computer systems.

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That list will be released Wednesday. (It's wonderful in this day and age that people still click on odd email attachments.) Once the click took place, spyware and a worm were unleashed into the system, freezing all of the electronic files. Law enforcement is not involved at this time.

She said the county is working with a third-party technology company to decide what to do and added that she is open to paying the ransom, which would be paid in bitcoin.

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

The hacker may not provide decryption key like promised or the hacker may try to do the same thing again and seek more money from the county. At this time, there is no Estimated Time of Recovery (ETR) available.

Chaney says her department takes extra precautions to make sure they don't have the same issues.

"Once you're in that situation, you really have no good option so a lot of people and companies end up paying", he said.

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