CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Less than 24 hours after Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio refused to pay cyber hackers a $23,000 ransom, the hackers tried again.
In a memo to employees obtained by NBC Charlotte, Diorio wrote that a security check, “…is reporting that the cybercriminals are redoubling their efforts to penetrate the County’s systems, primarily through emails that contain fraudulent attachments with viruses that could further damage our systems.”
It was an email with just such an attachment that was opened earlier this week by a county employee that triggered the freeze on much of the county’s computer system.
The hackers demanded a ransom of $23,000, but on Wednesday Diorio refused to pay, saying the county’s backup systems could restore much of what had been disabled.
During a speaking engagement at Charlotte's Kennedy Middle School, Governor Roy Cooper said the county did the right thing by not paying the ransom.
“We can’t fall prey to these scam artists and people who want to hold governments hostage,” Cooper said.
Cooper said the state was working with Mecklenburg County on restoring the system, and that adding cybersecurity has to be a top priority.
“It shows us that we need to be careful and that we need to make sure that our systems are as secure as possible at a local, state and federal level," Cooper explained.