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Feds Investigate After Hackers Attack Water Utility

Federal and state officials are working with a North Carolina water utility after hackers attacked some of its computer systems.

The head of the Onslow Water and Sewer Authority said in a news release Monday that its internal computer system, including servers and personal computers, were subjected to what was characterized as "a sophisticated ransomware attack."

CEO Jeffrey Hudson said while customer information wasn't compromised in the attack, many other databases have to be recreated. He added that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the state of North Carolina have been called in.

Hudson said the utility began experiencing virus attacks from a malware system on Oct. 4. He said it was believed the virus was brought under control, but security specialists were called when the problem persisted.

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Last December, Mecklenburg County computer systems were hacked and local leaders refused to pay a hacker $23,000 to unlock data on county servers frozen by malicious software. The computers handled a collection of property taxes, building permits and processing jail inmates. Technology workers made digital repairs with backed-up data.

In March, the city of Atlanta's computer network was the victim of a ransomware cyberattack. A city spokeswoman said the attack was discovered by the city's information security team, which noticed "something that looked peculiar" on the server and began investigating.

Also in March, a ransomware attack hit Baltimore's 911 dispatch system, prompting a roughly 17-hour shutdown of automated emergency dispatching. The Colorado Department of Transportation suffered two attacks a month earlier.

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