Hackers hold N.C. county’s computers ransom for 2 bitcoins

A programmer shows a sample of a ransomware cyberattack on a laptop in Taiwan on May 13. On Tuesday, local government computers in Mecklenburg County, N.C. were hacked and files held hostage for a two bitcoin ransom. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA

Dec. 6 (UPI) — A hacker targeted county government computers in Mecklenburg, N.C. and is holding the files ransom for two bitcoins, officials said Tuesday.

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.

Diorio told WSOC-TV the county is considering paying up, but worry about what could happen afterwards.

“There’s a risk you don’t get the decryption key and don’t get your files back,” Diorio said. “There’s also the chance if they think you’ll pay, they may try to get you to come back again.”

Diorio said other hacker victims decide to pay because the ransom is cheaper than resolving the issue on their own.

Diorio told the Charlotte Observer that she doesn’t think Mecklenburg was targeted, but just another random hacking victim

“I don’t think we were at fault. There have been many, many institutions that have been breached. I think we do everything we can to keep our firewall secure,” she said.

Mecklenburg County isn’t the only local government system hacked for a bitcoin ransom lately.

Last month, hackers targeted the Sacramento transit system and held millions of files ransom for one bitcoin, which was worth approximately $8,000 at the time.

Bitcoin has soared in value over the past month, going from approximately $1,000 in early November to more than $12,000 today.


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