Mecklenburg County server held for ransom

Galtero Lara
Diciembre 7, 2017

On Twitter, Sandy D'Elosua Vastola, the city of Charlotte's director of communications and marketing, indicated its servers are "on completely different systems" and were not affected by the breach. During a press conference scheduled at 2 p.m. Wednesday, county officials said they have not made a decision whether or not to pay the ransom but are planning on making a decision "by the end of the day". Achieving that goal will require the county to use its backups to rebuild applications from scratch, the county said.

WBTV has learned the hackers are demanding substantially more money than first reported, according to sources. She also denied reports that the hackers were asking for a greater ransom than the $23,000 that was reported Tuesday.

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"We are open for business and we are slow, but the good news is that based on what we know today, there's no indication that any data has actually been lost, or personal or health information has been compromised", Diorio said then, noting that it may be several days before a "methodical, detailed review of all servers" is complete and services are completely restored.

She says it's her call whether to pay them and she's debating doing that.

Builders are among those who felt the hack's full effects on Wednesday.

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Diorio now says the attack affected 48 of the county's 500 servers. She said the county acted quickly to shut down services to prevent the spread of the virus after it was discovered. The outage will reportedly affect email, printing, and other ways to conduct business at most county offices. Rod Spence with Banister Homes was at the Code Enforcement office off Wilkinson Boulevard, where he said there's "a lot of confusion".

"It's concerning when this happens to government, it's concerning to an individual when this happens to themselves", County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour said Tuesday night. Security expert Bill Chu at UNC Charlotte said hackers in attacks like this want victims to pay.

Diorio says the county is working with its outside cybersecurity contractor and has consulted with experts at places like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bank of America. Of course, as Diorio mentioned above, paying off a hacker could embolden them to attack you again. "So that's the conversation that we are continuing to have".

Mecklenburg County residents are urged to call Mecklenburg County offices to make sure the service they need is available and there are no special instructions.

No other details have been released.

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