Business

Meck. County Will Not Pay Ransom To Hackers

Meck. County Will Not Pay Ransom To Hackers

County officials are trying to decide whether to pay the ransom or begin what could be a lengthy process of restoring the servers from backups.

"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. All county-wide Information Technology Services were shut down until further notice.

During a press conference Wednesday, Diorio reiterated that no personal information of county workers or customers was compromised by the hackers, which has affected 48 of 500 servers.

Officials say they have no idea who the hackers are and no way to track them down.

Thomas says they have all the security layers needed to prevent these cyber attacks, but says it's always possible they could be a hacker's next target.

She says the county consulted with cybersecurity experts before making the decision.

Many Mecklenburg County services that rely on computer systems were slowed or unavailable Wednesday morning after hackers encrypted 30 county servers and demanded ransom.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, a Mecklenburg County source said the outage was "believed to be due to an external threat". "So that's the conversation that we are continuing to have".

Anyone planning to go to a county office to conduct business is asked to call the office prior to their visit to make sure they can actually be served.

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Among the affected services is the county's Department of Social Services transportation scheduling system.

"Our priorities are going to be systems that affect health and human services, like the Department of Social Services, Health Services, Child Support Services", Diehl said.

The breach reportedly happened when a county employee clicked on a bad attachment in an email, exposing the files.

"The bottom line is regardless of what direction we take, whether we pay or we don't pay, this situation will be resolved in days and not hours", Diorio said.

"The city has severed direct connection to Mecklenburg County systems, including email", D'Elosua Vastola said in the statement.

Meanwhile, payments to the tax office must be made with a check, cash or money order, and code inspectors have been slowed down by having to use paper records, according to a list of affected services.

County Manager Dena Diorio said Tuesday she is debating whether to pay the ransom. Credit card information is not saved on servers. After the attack, the county disconnected most computer applications.

Stay tuned to WFAE for updates on this developing story.


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