Mecklenburg County server held for ransom

Micah Smith | WBTV

Spencer Merriweather Micah Smith | WBTV

Diorio told WSOC-TV that she doesn't believe the hackers have access to personal information. The hackers told Mecklenburg County they have until 1 p.m. Wednesday to pay the ransom.

In September, it happened to Montgomery County, Alabama, and it paid thousands of dollars in ransom to hackers in order to recover stolen government data, according to the political website The Hill.

"We have a person whose job it is to make sure those backups are successful every evening", Chaney said.

The situation is the latest example of cyber criminals deploying a form of software known as ransomware, which freezes up files on a computer network until someone enters a decryption code to unlock them.

The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners received an update on the outage during its meeting on Tuesday night. This will affect email, printing and other County applications, including the ability 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.

In a report from WSFA, Montgomery County officials said the backup servers were more than 90 percent full and they planned to wait until the next budget passed to upgrade the servers. On Wednesday, Diorio expects to release a list of services that are unavailable because of the attack.

The county also could try to restore the servers itself, though Diorio said that could take a long time and come at a larger cost. The hackers demanded $35,000 in the electronic currency bitcoin, but the library refused to pay.

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.

St. Louis was hit in January, when hackers infected every public computer in the St. Louis Public Library system, reported CNN.

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

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

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