Texas Courts Hit By Ransomware, But “No Sensitive Data Compromised”: Cybersecurity Trends

Third cybersecurity story in two days!  In my home state, no less.  But, this appears to have a happier ending – at least, according to the IT provider for the state judicial agencies and the appellate courts within the Texas Judicial Branch.

According to Bleeping Computer (Texas Courts hit by ransomware, network disabled to limit spread, written by Sergiu Gatlan), the Texas court system was hit by ransomware on Friday night, May 8th, which led to the branch network including websites and servers being disabled to block the malware from spreading to other systems.

“On Friday, May 8th, the Office of Court Administration (OCA), the information technology (IT) provider for the appellate courts and state judicial agencies within the Texas Judicial Branch, identified a serious security event in the branch network, which was later determined to be a ransomware attack,” a statement published on the site of the Texas Judicial Branch stated.

“The attack began during the overnight hours and was first discovered in the early morning hours on Friday. The attack is unrelated to the courts’ migration to remote hearings amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

David Slayton, Administrative Director of the OCA, further explained that the network will remain disabled until the breach is addressed, stating: “At this time, there is no indication that any sensitive information, including personal information, was compromised. Additionally, due to the structure of the IT function within the state judiciary, individual trial court networks throughout the state were unaffected by the cyberattack.”

Slayton also said that the OCA “was able to catch the ransomware and limit its impact and will not pay any ransom,” and that it continues to work on bringing all judicial entities and branch resources affected by the attack back online.

OCA is also collaborating with the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) to investigate the ransomware attack, as well as other information security authorities to recover the impacted data.

Texas Judiciary IT systems that have been moved to the cloud during recent years — including eFileTexas (for filing of documents), reSearchTX (for reviewing filed documents), collaboration tools for editing, and sharing documents, and email — haven’t been impacted by the attack.

So, it appears Texas courts may have fared better than a certain law firm to the stars by catching and addressing the issue early – we’ll see.

Also, Rob Robinson has launched the semi-annual eDiscovery Pricing Survey in his terrific Complex Discovery site.  The survey is designed to provide insight into eDiscovery pricing through the lens of 15 specific pricing questions answered by legal, information technology, and business professionals operating in the eDiscovery ecosystem.  I’ve covered it before and you can expect that I’ll cover it again, especially given the results of his recent Spring 2020 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey (covered by me here), which showed significant findings that were impacted by the current pandemic.  You can take the survey here – it will be wrapped up “no later than May 27th”.

And, finally, just a reminder that I’ll be participating in an ACEDS webinar tomorrow at 1pm ET – Forms of Production: Maximizing Benefit and Managing Costs, with Tom O’Connor and Mike Quartararo.  You can still register for it here.  Please join us!

So, what do you think?  Can we learn something from how this cyber breach was handled?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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