Meck County Still Restoring Systems After Cyberattack

Jan 2, 2018

It's taking longer than expected to restore Mecklenburg County computer systems disabled after a cyberattack last month. County officials had hoped to finish the job by New Year's, but the work continues.

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Spokesman Rick Christenbury said Tuesday most systems used by the public have been restored, and county tech workers now are focusing mainly on internal systems. He provided a statement on the work:

"Shortly after the attack, departments prioritized the services they needed restored first.  Those services - including paying taxes online, Code Enforcement, GIS mapping, the Polaris Real Estate Lookup system, arrest processing, the courts and interacting with our human services agencies - are now available. The remaining repair work is mainly within the County's internal systems, and we hope to have those restored as soon as possible."

Just before Christmas, the county said 80 of 200 key systems were back online.  It's now possible to pay taxes online, apply for building permits and inspections, and look up real estate information. Arrest processing and court systems are back, as are human services computers.

County Manager Dena Diorio is scheduled to give give county commissioners an update at their meeting Wednesday night.

The hack happened in early December when a county employee clicked on an email link that sent a malicious program onto their own and other computers and servers. Officials say 48 of the county's 500 servers and 200 key computer programs or applications were affected.

The program locked the computers, while county officials shut down others to prevent the infection from spreading. Hackers demanded a ransom of two Bitcoins, worth more than $30,000 at the time, in exchange for a key to unlock them. Officials decided not to pay the ransom, after determining that systems could be restored from backups.