Hackers Hold Local Government Computers for Ransom and Demand Two Bitcoin

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She said the county is working with a third-party technology company to decide what to do and added that she is open to paying the ransom, which would be paid in bitcoin.

A hacker is holding files on Mecklenburg County's server for ransom, according to Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio.

The shutdown is affecting email, printing and other county applications, including the ability to conduct business at most county offices.

According to WBTV, the county was experiencing a county-wide computer system outage Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Mecklenburg County posted a statement on its website saying that, 'Each County department is activating its Continuity Of Operations Plan, which is created to address situations like this. "If you are planning to go to a County office to conduct business, please contact the office prior to going to ensure you can be served". On Wednesday, Diorio expects to release a list of services that are unavailable because of the attack.

At that time, Chaney said the county has fallen victim to six ransomware attacks in her 13 years on the job here.

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

The county also could try to restore the servers itself, though Diorio said that could take a long time and come at a larger cost. Typically, the code can only be obtained by paying the hackers.

WSOC reporter Joe Bruno tweeted that it is unclear where the attack originated, but the hackers are in a time zone seven hours ahead of Charlotte, which would include Russian Federation, where cybercrime is frequently based.

School systems have become among the most popular targets of hackers, because "they are finding a relatively weak system to protect a valuable student data", The Wall Street Journal reported in October. Instead, it wiped the entire computer system and reset it, which almost two weeks, CNN reported.

Chairwoman of the Board Ella Scarborough disagrees and thinks the county shouldn't engage in the talks.

"Absolutely not. If they can make us pay now for that, they'll make us pay for something later", says Scarborough.

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