Hackers Hit North Carolina County Government and Demand Two Bitcoin Ransom


County Manager Dena Diorio joins host Mike Collins with the latest on Mecklenburg County's ransomware attack. and Todd Moss, once the top United States diplomat in West Africa, talks about his experiences and diplomacy, as well as his series of fictional global thrillers inspired by his diplomatic work.

County Manager Dena Diorio said a county employee clicked an attachment in an email that exposed the files to the hackers, WCNC-TV reported.

"If we do pay, the first thing that we need to do is to set up a crypto currency account", Diorio said, noting that it would take several days to set up the account, obtain the encryption key from the hackers, and test whether it works. The hackers have given the county a deadline of 1 pm Wednesday to pay a ransom of about $23,000.

The official also explained that the county faces a dilemma in deciding whether to pay.

This is a developing story. The county was "open for business" but many operations had slowed, she added.

Diorio thanked the county's IT staff, as well as Bank of America, Governor Roy Cooper, the FBI, Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security for offering their assistance and support.

County spokesman Leo Caplanides said in an email that he could offer no further information.

Diorio said all servers were operating, but information on scheduled medical trips by some 300 patients were lost and a domestic violence hotline was sending calls directly to voicemail.

North Carolina's largest city says its computer system hasn't been affected by a hacking attack on the surrounding county.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, a Mecklenburg County source said the outage was "believed to be due to an external threat".

County officials have been working with cybersecurity experts to assess the situation and have been informed that the hackers are likely from Iran or Ukraine, based on the cyber forensics analysis.

The county issued a statement on Twitter Wednesday asking residents to contact county offices before visiting to see whether they are offering services. She said she is the one who will make a decision whether to pay the hacker by Wednesday afternoon.