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Hackers hold NC county's computers ransom for 2 bitcoins

06 December 2017

Officials in Mecklenburg, N.C. must make a hard decision by 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday: They must choose whether to pay two bitcoins-currently worth about $25,000-to hackers who are holding the county's computer files for ransom.

The county posted on its website that they were experiencing a county-wide computer outage.

The hackers' threat isn't to publish the files, but to keep them inaccessible.

Though the county's computer systems were breached, Diorio said that people needn't worry about their personal information being accessed by the hacker.

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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.

The hacker wants two bitcoins, roughly worth about $23,000, for the files, according to Diorio. Now that ransom price is being doubled as hackers have hit the Mecklenburg, North Carolina county government and are demanding 2 bitcoins.

WBTV says county officials were considering whether to pay the ransom.

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The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners received an update on the outage during its meeting on Tuesday night. "It could be days", Dario said.

To minimize the inconvenience to the public, some departments would try and do business on paper until the problem gets resolved.

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. It's "cheaper to pay than to fix it on our own", Diorio said. Or maybe they simply wouldn't return access to the files even after the ransom gets paid.

A criminal who infected the computer systems of Mecklenburg County with ransomware has demanded a ransom payment of $23,000 for the decryption key. A third-party group could restore said files, but using them could cost more than what the hackers were demanding.

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The Charlotte Observer reported that as yet, the Mecklenburg Police Department is not involved in the case.

Hackers hold NC county's computers ransom for 2 bitcoins