Hackers demand ransom from Orange County for 3rd time in 6 years

Orange County News

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A local county is being held hostage by hackers who could have access to your private information at their fingertips.

The Orange County IT Department is working hand in hand with outside agencies to hunt down hackers who have invaded county computer servers with ransomware.

“Early Monday morning we detected an encryption virus on the county network,” said Orange County spokesman Todd McGee.

For the third time in six years, hackers are trying to hold Orange County hostage.

“A lot of these things come from Eastern Europe,” said McGee. “They’re just trying to do whatever they can to compromise you in some way that you feel compelled to pay them.”

Though the hackers have yet to make any credible demands, the attack has many county services struggling to keep the doors open.

“Right now it’s keeping us from accessing any of the shared servers that we store our data on,” said McGee.

The hack has effectively shut down computer systems in the sheriff’s office, Register of Deeds, and even the library.

Information such as your name, address, date of birth, and social security number could easily be compromised if the county doesn’t pay up.

“Right now we have no indication that any data has been stolen or any data has been compromised,” said McGee.

 McGee says he’s confident the IT department can crack the code without coughing up any cash.

“A county in Georgia just paid $400,000 for ransomware to get the encryption taken away,” said McGee.

Of larger concern for the county is how this keeps happening.

“Anybody can be on something and if they just click on the wrong link while they’re on the computer,” said McGee.

“We have public computers at the library that somebody could have clicked on the wrong link. Hopefully, they can track it all down to the one computer that started it all,” McGee added.

In the meantime, many county services could be closed for the rest of the week.

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