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North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County Refuses to Pay Ransomware

Dena R. Diorio

A county in North Carolina has refused to pay $23,000 in ransomware, and will instead restore government systems using backup data. Mecklenburg County Manager Dena R. Diorio announced the decision Wednesday afternoon. Many of the county’s applications that have been frozen since Monday.

“I am confident that our backup data is secure and we have the resources to fix this situation ourselves,” said Diorio in a prepared statement. “It will take time, but with patience and hard work, all of our systems will be back up and running as soon as possible.” Moreover, she noted: There was no guarantee that paying the criminals would guarantee the systems would be decrypted.

The county did not mention what type of backup and restore platforms it leverages, nor did the county disclose if an IT service provider will assist with the data restore. Health and Human Services, the Court system and Land Use and Environmental Services will be restored first.

All County offices remain open and departments have implemented alternative processes where necessary to continue serving customers in the interim, the county said.

Still, the attack sounds serious and widespread. The attack knocked a range of systems offline, including finance, HR job applications, multiple tax systems, register of deeds, GIS, the assessor’s office, parks and recreation, child support and more.

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