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Orange County hit and taken offline with ransomware

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The Orange County, N.C., government was knocked offline by a ransomware attack early Monday morning.

County officials discovered files were being encrypted and shut down its entire network in an effort to stop the malware from spreading, effectively shutting down online access to most county services, according to a statement. An outside security firm has been retained to help restore services, but as of press time the county does not know how the malware was introduced nor did it mention a ransom amount.

Currently, the following county services are unavailable:

  • Public WiFi at all Orange County facilities.
  • Public computers at Orange County Main Library.
  • Online reservations for Orange County facilities as well as classes or programs for DEAPR and Department of Aging. Residents can register in person for classes and programs or to reserve facilities but staff will not be able to verify if space is available until computer access is restored.
  • Register of Deeds cannot process real estate closings or issue marriage licenses. A marriage license can be obtained from a Register in another county.
  • Housing cannot process any vouchers.
  • The Tax Office can not verify tax bills to determine amount owed. Appraisal services are also curtailed.
  • Planning Department cannot process fees or close out permits.
  • Some pet adoptions in the animal services may be delayed.
  • The Health Department clinics are operating as normal, but services may be impacted if the disruption lasts for more than a few days.

Orange County joins a growing list of municipalities and companies that have been hit with ransomware attacks in the last few weeks. Jackson County, Ga., was taken down earlier this month and opted to pay a $400,000 ransom to regain access to its data and Columbia Surgical Specialists paid an almost $15,000 ransom to regain access to files encrypted during a ransomware attack.

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