Ransomware Attack Forces Texas Court Servers Offline

System administrators discovered Friday that hackers had taken over a portion of the statewide court network and were demanding ransom before control of the system was restored. This is not the first such attack.

by Dave Boucher, The Dallas Morning News / May 11, 2020
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(TNS) — Texas courts shut down websites and disabled servers late last week in response to a ransomware attack, the Office of Court Administration announced Monday. 

System administrators discovered early Friday that hackers had taken over at least a portion of the statewide court network and demanded something in return for restoring control. The administration runs the information technology services for Texas appellate courts and state judicial agencies, including the Texas courts website.

The court system is working with state law enforcement to investigate the breach and vowed not to pay any ransom. 

“At this time, there is no indication that sensitive information, including personal information, was compromised,” a press release states

The coronavirus pandemic had already forced Texas courts to use more video hearings. This ransomware attack is not related to the effort to increase the number of remote hearings, according to the press release. 

Previous efforts by the state to move information technology functions online to the cloud helped mitigate the damage from the attack. This ensured the systems for filing and reviewing documents, along with the email system, were not affected, according to the press release. Individual trial court networks were also unaffected. 

The state created a temporary website that includes information about the attack and coronavirus guidance for courts. 

This is not the first ransomware attack to hit a Texas agency. Last August, at least 20 state agencies were affected by a coordinated attack, according to the state Department of Information resources. 

©2020 The Dallas Morning News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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