Friday, 15 December, 2017

Hackers Hit North Carolina County Government and Demand Two Bitcoin Ransom

Hackers freeze Mecklenburg County servers, demand $23000 Hackers hold NC county's computers ransom for 2 bitcoins
Laurie Berry | 06 December, 2017, 22:54

Hackers are holding county office servers for ransom in the most populous county in North Carolina.

It is not believed that they had access to personal information.

"If you pay the bitcoin, there is always a risk they won't give you the encryption key", she said.

County Manager Dena Diorio joins host Mike Collins with the latest on Mecklenburg County's ransomware attack. and Todd Moss, once the top United States diplomat in West Africa, talks about his experiences and diplomacy, as well as his series of fictional worldwide thrillers inspired by his diplomatic work. "We believe this is the world of cyber criminals".

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).

"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.

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

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Each county department is activating its continuity of operations plan, which is designed for situations such as this.

If you're planning on heading to a county office for business purposes, you need to contact the office ahead of time to make sure you can be helped, county officials said.

That list will be released Wednesday.

A couple county commissioners declined to talk about the attack, saying they don't fully understand the ins-and-outs of it. Commission Chair Ella Scarborough says she doesn't want the county to pay the ransom. Typically, the code can only be obtained by paying the hackers. While paying the ransom may be the only way to obtain the decryption key, there is no guarantee the hackers will honor their commitment and provide the key.

There is no estimated time on when the computer systems will be back up and running. "And they could go back for more (money)".

"They are like bullies in my opinion, and I don't like to pay bullies", Scarborough said.

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