Hackers Hold Local Government Computers for Ransom and Demand Two Bitcoin

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The hackers holding Mecklenburg County's computer files hostage in exchange for payment are demanding substantially more money than first reported, WBTV has learned.

Diorio told WSOC-TV that she doesn't believe the hackers have access to personal information. "But she said they are switching to paper records for work on Wednesday", according to the Charlotte Observer.

"We don't believe we were targeted", Diorio told the station. "We believe this is the world of cyber criminals".

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County Manager Dena Diorio said the hacker essentially froze the county's electronic files and gave officials until 1 p.m. EST Wednesday to pay the two bitcoins, which came out to a value of more than $24,000 by the end of Tuesday. The outage will reportedly affect email, printing, and other ways to conduct business at most county offices.

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.

Anyone planning to go to a county office to conduct business is asked to call the office prior to their visit to make sure they can actually be served. On Wednesday, Diorio expects to release a list of services that are unavailable because of the attack.

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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. "There's also the chance if they think you'll pay, they may try to get you to come back again". Typically, the code can only be obtained by paying the hackers.

The attack happened when a county employee opened an email attachment that infected the county's computer system with spyware and a worm. A third-party group could restore said files, but using them could cost more than what the hackers were demanding.

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

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