Hackers Shut Down Mecklenburg County Computer System – Demanding Ransom in Bitcoins

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The Mecklenburg County computer system has just been hacked and cybercriminals are now demanding a ransom for the files.

County Manager Dena Diorio said that an employee clicked on a suspicious email attachment on Monday, resulting in a ‘worm’ gaining access to the county’s computer files. The worm file then froze all internal files and gave control over to a group of external hackers.

The hackers are demanding 2 Bitcoin (currently worth about $23,000) in ransom to unlock the files and remove the worm.

Mecklenburg County now has until 1 p.m. this afternoon to pay the ransom.

Yesterday the county tweeted out the following alert;

…directing people to a public statement on the county website, saying, “…all County-wide Information Technology Services (ITS) systems will be shut down until further notice…”

According to Diorio, the county is currently working with a third-party tech firm to determine how much it would cost to decrypt the files themselves.

The county is open to paying the ransom, but fear that it would incentivize hacking, and offer no guarantee the files would actually be unlocked – the hackers could simply demand more money.

UPDATE: 12/6/2017 10:12pm

UPDATE: 12/6/2017 12:05pm

UPDATE: 12/6/2017 2:10pm

“This problem will be resolved in days, not hours…”

UPDATE: 12/6/2017 3:23pm

The County just released a complete list of all public service changes that are now in place due to the attack:

HUMAN RESOURCES

• Applicants cannot apply for vacant positions.

TAX OFFICE

  • Property tax payments cannot be made at the Wilkinson Boulevard location.
  • Tax records and payment information cannot be accessed online or by telephone.
  • All online services, including online payment options, are not available.
  • Payments made by mail will not be posted until tax systems are available.
  • Once tax systems are available, payments received by mail and in person will be posted in the order received resulting in a delay in checks being cashed.
  • Real estate and personal property tax payments can be made in person at Walton Plaza if the taxpayer presents the bill(s) with payment. We do not have the ability to look up bills for the taxpayers to pay.
  • Gross receipts tax payments can be made in person at the Hal Marshall Center if the taxpayer presents the completed tax return(s) with payment. We do not have the ability to look-up information for taxpayers.
  • Payments must be made with a check, money order, or cash.  Credit and debit card payments cannot be accepted.

REGISTER OF DEEDS

  • All computers used to complete marriage applications, assumed business names research and filing, and record research are not operational.
  • Many professionals that frequent the ROD for research have prepaid for copies, they will be unable to access those funds for those services as well.

LUESA

  • Code and Storm Water Services cannot review plans or issue new permits.
  • GIS cannot provide addressing and other services.
  • Air Quality services for asbestos reviews, etc. cannot be performed until the system is up.
  • Code enforcement inspection process will be slowed due to paper process.

ASSESSOR’S OFFICE

  • County Assessor’s Office reports AssessPro (The Real Property appraisal system), NCPTS (the personal property appraisal system and the billing and collection system) are down.
  • Polaris and Tax Bill look up county web links are down.

PARK AND RECREATION

  • Online reservations are down.

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES
Transportation Message:
If you have made a transportation reservation through DSS/MTS scheduling, please call Customer Connection at 704-336-4547 to confirm your transportation.  This includes reservations made for bus passes and vendor transportation for trips scheduled through Dec. 11, 2017.

CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT

  • Please call your agent to see if services are available.

FINANCE

  • Automated payments, invoicing, procurement, etc. This means no Electronic funds transfers, processing of procurement requests in the system, or other similar transactions at this time.

We will update this article as new information is received. 

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