TOPEKA (KSNT) – A representative with the Kansas Courts has released new information in the ongoing investigation of a “security incident” that resulted in the shutdown of numerous online judicial programs across the state.
Public Information Director Lisa Taylor with the Kansas Courts said in a press release on Nov. 4 that efforts to bring judicial programs back online is continuing in phases with no set timeline in place as to when they will be fully restored.
This news comes three weeks after the security incident was initially reported on Oct. 12. Court systems statewide, with the exception of those in Johnson County, were impacted and left local courts struggling to keep up with cases.
“Our phased recovery includes upgrading firewalls, rebuilding our network, and securing our technology environment,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “We are following best practices for restoring and managing our information systems safely and securely, and it takes time.”
Taylor said the Kansas Courts are busy trying to create a safer environment for its information systems and plan for the restoration of court case data. This will be an incremental process, starting with access to district court case information via a computer network at the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka.
“Kansas courts have continued to process cases while our information systems have been offline, but it is at a slower pace due to our current dependency on paper documents,” Luckert said. “Having access to district court case data, even on a limited basis, will help courts better track cases. It will also help fill information needs related to real estate transactions, background checks, conflict checks, and more.”
Two information centers will be set up in the coming days in the Kansas Judicial Center with one bank of computer terminals dedicated to helping district courts. It is hoped this will help both employees and volunteers access data and records to fill district court information needs.
The second group of computers in a separate first-floor meeting room will be for the public to use when accessing district court information. Those wanting to use these public computers will need to sign up for 30-minute sessions. Taylor said the public access center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. initially with times being altered as demand and staffing change. A later release is planned to announce when this area will be open to the public.
Taylor said the Kansas Courts contacted law enforcement for help investigating the security incident from Oct. 12. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) confirmed with FOX4 in Kansas City on Oct. 23 that the agency is working alongside federal affiliates to investigate the situation. The investigation includes outside experts who are looking into what happened, how it happened and what is impacted.
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“We are grateful for the support we have received from the executive and legislative branches of government.” Luckert said. “By working together, all state information technology systems are made more secure.”
The security incident initially impacted the following systems:
- Kansas Courts eFiling, which accepts electronically filed documents.
- Kansas Protection Order Portal, which accepts electronically filed documents.
- Kansas District Court Public Access Portal, which allows searching district court case information.
- Appellate Case Inquiry System, which allows searching appellate court case information.
- Kansas Attorney Registration, which allows searching for an attorney by name or bar number.
- Kansas online marriage license application. Persons can still apply, but the application will not be sent to a district court for processing through the efiling system.
- Central Payment Center, which operates in the Office of Judicial Administration, will not be able to process disbursements on behalf of district courts.
- Kansas eCourt case management system, which district courts use to process cases.
As new information became available, it was revealed that some systems with the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) were also impacted by the incident. Reporting from the Associated Press (AP) indicated the possibility that the Kansas Courts experienced a ransomware attack.