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County weighs paying cyber hackers $26K ransom for servers held hostage

County weighs paying cyber hackers $26K ransom for servers held hostage

In a statement from the county she says, "I am confident that our backup data is secure and we have the resources to fix this situation ourselves", said Diorio.

An expert on cyber security told The Associated Press that it's not uncommon for municipalities to be hacked with ransomware.

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

Many county services remained disrupted as local officials in North Carolina work to restore computer systems after a cyberattack.

"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.

County officials said they'll decide by the end of Wednesday whether to pay hackers a ransom or begin restoration of 48 computer servers that were scrambled in an attack this week.

"Things that we were doing electronically, we are now moving to paper", Diorio said.

It is still not clear whether the county will pay the ransom.

Diorio said regardless whether or not county officials pay the ransom, the incident won't be resolved for several days.

As of late Wednesday morning, county staff was working to determine whether the hacker was demanding two bitcoins for the information on each of the 30 servers or whether the demand was for two bitcoin for each file on the 30 servers.

The CIO pointed out that events similar to the hack in Mecklenburg County will continue to happen around the world, and require public officials to be continually on guard against cyberintruders. DSS is asking people with reservations to call the customer service line (704-336-4547) to confirm their reservations, through December 11.

The unknown hackers gave the county a deadline of 1 p.m. today to pay a $23,000 Bitcoin ransom to regain access to the files, which are locked by the hackers' encryption. "So that's the conversation that we are continuing to have".

Each department is activating plans to continue operating during the outage, the county said.

"Our advice to folks is if planning to come and do business with the county and go to Code Enforcement, for example, they should call in advance and make sure that we're going to be available".

It was an email with just such an attachment that was opened earlier this week by a county employee that triggered the freeze on much of the county's computer system. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server. The state's largest city issued a statement that its separate computer systems have not been affected and that it severed direct connections to county computers.

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.