Mecklenburg County officials say that it could take days to restore compromised computer systems from backup data after they refused to pay ransom to a hacker.
Although the deadline passed without a payment, the hackers apparently were taking no action as long as county officials were in communication with them through cybersecurity experts.
Diorio said no resident's personal information is exposed, but all of the Information Technology Services (ITS) systems in the county are shut down.
"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".
"Based on our discussions with our attorney, there are a lot of places that pay, because it is easier to pay, it's cheaper to pay than to try to fix it on your own", she said.
Deputies processed arrests by hand and building code officers used paper records Wednesday as one of North Carolina's largest counties considered how to respond to a hacker who froze county servers and is demanding ransom.
"It was going to take nearly as long to fix the system after paying the ransom as it does to fix it ourselves", she said. Just after 6 p.m., officials told reporters that 30 servers were being held for ransom.More news: Pizza Hut tests beer and wine delivery
More news: Chad Morris to be Arkansas Razorbacks next head football coach
More news: Airplane Flight Crew Gets Front Row Seat To North Korean Missile Test
They've demanded a ransom of $23,000 in the electronic currency Bitcoin in exchange for unlocking the data.
"The bottom line is regardless of what direction we take, whether we pay or we don't pay, this situation will be resolved in days and not hours", Diorio said. Diorio said officials believe the hackers are from Iran or Ukraine. "So that's the conversation that we are continuing to have".
"Our advice to folks is if planning to come and do business with the county and go to Code Enforcement, for example, they should call in advance and make sure that we're going to be available". And the social services department is working to recreate its daily itinerary of 1,600 rides for elderly patients with medical appointments.
The breach reportedly happened when a county employee clicked on a bad attachment in an email, exposing the files.
"The city has severed direct connection to Mecklenburg County systems, including email", D'Elosua Vastola said in the statement.
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's office also was affected. Credit card information is not saved on servers. The hackers' threat isn't to publish the files, but to keep them inaccessible.