Finance

Hackers Hold Local Government Computers for Ransom and Demand Two Bitcoin

Hackers Hold Local Government Computers for Ransom and Demand Two Bitcoin

County workers are unable to look up bills for taxpayers to pay. The hackers told Mecklenburg County they have until 1 p.m. Wednesday to pay the ransom.

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

WBTV has learned the hackers are demanding substantially more money than first reported, according to sources.

Diorio told county commissioners in a meeting that the files were being held for ransom as the hackers were demanding 2 bitcoins, which is now worth nearly $25,000 (at the time of this article's writing).

Diorio said all servers were operating, but information on scheduled medical trips by some 300 patients were lost and a domestic violence hotline was sending calls directly to voicemail.

Officials in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, are weighing whether to pay a $23,000 ransom demand to hackers who breached and took over county government computer systems.

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Diorio thanked the county's IT staff, as well as Bank of America, Governor Roy Cooper, the FBI, Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security for offering their assistance and support. The outage will reportedly affect email, printing, and other ways to conduct business at most county offices.

The county issued a statement on Twitter Wednesday asking residents to contact county offices before visiting to see whether they are offering services.

"It's concerning when this happens to government, it's concerning to an individual when this happens to themselves", County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour said Tuesday night.

Mecklenburg County officials say that the hacking has affected its computer system and that a hacker is seeking a ransom of more than $23,000.

Diorio is now working with a "third party forensic expert" to navigate the county's next steps.

Is It Cheaper to Pay the Ransom?

Of course, as Diorio mentioned above, paying off a hacker could embolden them to attack you again. "So that's the conversation that we are continuing to have". It's unclear at this time how many county employees received the email.