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Mecklenburg County officials have made a decision to not pay hackers $23,000 to unfreeze files on dozens of affected servers.

She said in a statement, "I am confident that our backup data is secure and we have the resources to fix the situation ourselves".

Diorio said county technology officials will use backup data from before the ransomware attack to restore the system, but the rebuild will take "patience and hard work". Diorio said no personal information was compromised during the hack.

The hackers holding Mecklenburg County's computer files hostage in exchange for payment are demanding substantially more money than first reported, WBTV has learned.

Cyber experts believe the hackers operated from Iran or Ukraine and infected the servers with a new strain of ransomware known as LockCrypt, she said.

County manager Dena Diorio told reporters it could take "days not hours" to restore the computers and bring full service back, regardless of whether the county pays the ransom.

All county-wide ITS systems will be shut down until further notice, the county announced.

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

At least two county commissioners said they had not been briefed on the additional information regarding the actual total of the ransom when contacted by WBTV on Wednesday morning. "And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix".

Departments affected by the outage are implementing contingency plans. She said leaders are considering paying the ransom.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's office also was affected. It also contained an email address and instructions on how to pay the ransom.

The county of more than 1 million residents includes Charlotte, but the city government appears not to have been compromised by the attack. And credit card numbers aren't stored on a county server. After the attack, the county disconnected most computer applications.

At this point, officials don't believe any information has been stolen, but malware was discovered on about 30 servers.

The hack caused issues with call centers, code enforcement applications, and a variety of county systems that are used to provide services to people in the county.

Stay tuned to WFAE for updates on this developing story.


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