Hackers hold NC county's computers ransom for 2 bitcoins

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Mike Collins gets an update from Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio on how the county is handling the attack and what's next for the retrieval of information.

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. Just after 6 p.m., officials told reporters that 30 servers were being held for ransom. The hackers have given the county a deadline of 1 pm Wednesday to pay a ransom of about $23,000. There's also no guarantee hackers will give the decryption code once they receive the money.

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. The county can restore the files itself, but Diorio says, that could take a long time and come at an even larger cost.

A hacker targeted county government computers in Mecklenburg, N.C. and is holding the files ransom for two bitcoins, officials said Tuesday.

Forty-eight of the counties 500 servers were impacted in the cyberattack, Diorio said.

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Diorio said no resident's personal information is exposed, but all of the Information Technology Services (ITS) systems in the county are shut down.

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

Diorio said a comprehensive list of the departments that will be moving to paper will be released Wednesday.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, a Mecklenburg County source said the outage was "believed to be due to an external threat". She said she is the one who will make a decision whether to pay the hacker by Wednesday afternoon.

Is It Cheaper to Pay the Ransom?

County services ranging from transportation to Medicaid patients to processing of arrestees have been slowed as employees use manual instead of computer-based controls.

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