Cyber criminals targeting local governments - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Cyber criminals targeting local governments

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Columbiana County has fallen victim to cyber criminals.  Last month, a virus encrypted the county's juvenile court computer system and hackers demanded 5 bit-coins, the equivalent of about $2500, to unlock the information.  The county agreed to pay the ransom.

According to the Ohio auditor's office, cyber crimes targeting local governments are on the rise.

"Anyone is susceptible.  Your home computer, every place can have that and again, it's not a matter of it it will happen to you.  Really, it is a matter of when you will be attack," said Mahoning County Auditor Ralph Meacham.

Meacham says Mahoning County has also been targeted by hackers in the past.  Just this month, the state issued a warning.

In Delaware County, Walnut Local Schools were scammed out of about $40,000.  The Madison County Agricultural Society was swindled out of more than $60,000.  And in Peru Township, Ohio, administrators recently paid $200 to stop an attack.

Meacham is thankful Mahoning County has been able to resolve its attacks without having to pay these hackers, who are typically working outside of the United States.

"I understand these things might be in eastern Europe.  They could be in Asia.  You just don't know where they are coming from," said Meacham.

The Ohio auditors office has several for people to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of a scam.  The first tip is to never click on a link in an email that you're not familiar with.  The auditor's office recommends installing anti-virus software on computers.  It is also encouraged to always back up data.

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