Hackers Hold Local Government Computers for Ransom and Demand Two Bitcoin

Hackers Hold Local Government Computers for Ransom and Demand Two Bitcoin

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

On 5 December, the government for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina informed its Twitter followers that it was "experiencing a computer-system outage". The hackers have given the county a deadline of 1 pm Wednesday to pay a ransom of about $23,000.

The hacker wants two bitcoins, roughly worth about $23,000, for the files, according to Diorio.

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

Bitcoinist.com says it's cheaper to pay the hackers, and suggested Mecklenburg County seriously consider it.

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). The release noted that the city and county maintain separate servers. Hackers' demanded up to $2,900 which the district paid to get back its files. "So while they've frozen the servers, they've not compromised the data and not stolen data, as far as we know at this point", Diorio said Tuesday.

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A question that this scenario brings up is whether the county government remains functional in the short run, given how many jobs are reliant on computer systems.

"Local governments and businesses do find themselves in a quandary when targeted by hackers", according to the site. "It could be days", Dario said.

To minimize the inconvenience to the public, some departments would try and do business on paper until the problem gets resolved. More information on the county response won't be known until afternoon, he 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". The hack is forcing employees to handle many tasks manually.

Also, from the county's perspective, paying the ransom could be more economic.

The Charlotte Observer reported that as yet, the Mecklenburg Police Department is not involved in the case.

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