Mecklenburg County won't pay hacker, Kinston had previous ransomware attack

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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Authorities in a North Carolina county say its servers have been hacked and are being held for ransom.

(Image Source: MGN)

Mecklenburg County officials say a hacker gained access to their servers after a county employee opened an email attachment.

Wednesday evening, officials say the county will not pay a hacker ransom to unlock their data on county servers that's been frozen by the malicious software.

The hacker had asked for $23,000.

In Eastern Carolina, officials in the city of Kinston are taking a look at their own cybersecurity measures.

The MIS department in Kinston monitors all the city's servers and makes sure everything from the police department to the city's HR department is running smoothly.

These tech experts say there is always a chance a hacker will target the city.

In the past, the city has been hit by cyber attacks, but officials say they have always been able to get everything back up and running pretty quickly.

Michael Thomas, the MIS director, says they have an extensive security system to prevent these cyber attacks, but when it comes to technology, nothing is ever foolproof.

"We always play worst case scenario that happens if a virus attacks and wipes everything out completely," he explains. "How do we restore back that point. That's part of our disaster recovery plan where you have to restore partial or all systems."

Kinston's tech experts say it's a little unusual that it's taking Mecklenburg County this long to get all its servers restored.

Thomas says they have all the security layers needed to prevent these cyber attacks, but says it's always possible they could be a hacker's next target.

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio says that the county has backup data and other resources to restore its computer system but that the process could be time-consuming.

She says the county consulted with cybersecurity experts before making the decision.

Diorio also says that it would still have taken days to fix the system even after paying the ransom, and it won't take much longer to rebuild it without cooperating with the criminals.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Authorities in a North Carolina county say its servers have been hacked and are being held for ransom.

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio told local media outlets that someone opened an email attachment they shouldn't have, helping the hacker gain entry to the system.

According to county officials, all of the information technology service systems in the county are shut down, impacting email, printing and business at most county offices. Diorio said she doesn't believe the hackers have access to personal information.

Departments affected by the outage are implementing contingency plans.

Diorio said the hacker wants $23,000 or two bitcoin for the files, and gives the county until 1 p.m. Wednesday to make a decision. She said leaders are considering paying the ransom.