KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas Supreme Court has confirmed the “security incident” affecting court systems is the result of a sophisticated foreign cyberattack.
The cyberattack happened Oct. 12, and Kansas’ online court systems have been down ever since.
“This attack has temporarily incapacitated Kansas Office of Judicial Administration information systems, affecting daily operations of the state’s appellate courts and district courts in 104 counties,” the Kansas Supreme Court said Tuesday in a statement.
The Kansas Supreme Court said the criminals behind the cyberattack stole data and have threatened to post it to the “dark web” if their demands aren’t met.
“We are working with cybersecurity experts to identify the data quickly and securely so we can conduct a comprehensive review to determine the full scope of what personal information the cybercriminals may have stolen,” the court said.
Based on an early review, the Kansas Supreme Court believes the stolen information includes Office of Judicial Administration files, district court case records on appeal and other data — some of which could be confidential.
“There was a word used in that announcement—incapacitated—and I would agree. The courts in Kansas are currently incapacitated.” Tyler Garretson, a Criminal Defense Attorney with Garretson and Toth, said.
The court said fully reviewing all that might have been stolen will take time, but once it’s complete, they will notify those affected.
“This assault on the Kansas system of justice is evil and criminal. Today, we express our deep sorrow that Kansans will suffer at the hands of these cybercriminals,” the court said.
Massive. That’s how one attorney describes the cyber-attack against the Kansas state court system.
“The greater concern is for the general public and the information that now is not secured. Once that information is not secured and once that information is divulged, you can’t get it back,” he said.
“All of that information that you provide when you get married, that information is contained in that information management system, every divorce case, every document filed within that divorce case,” Garretson said.
Not to mention the criminal cases. Garretson says this has set the courts in Kansas back at least 15 years. A major concern is that it is unknown what information has been compromised.
The Kansas Supreme Court issued a “hard copy” order, meaning paper filing only, shortly after the cyberattack.
In mid-October, a spokesperson for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation confirmed the agency, along with federal partners, is investigating.
Initially, the state’s high court only described the issue as a security incident, estimating electronic filing would be down for about two weeks.
However, over a month later, the state’s online court systems are still down. It’s impacted nearly all Kansas courthouses, including those in Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Douglas counties — and all the way up to the Kansas Supreme Court.
“This can’t happen again, right? It may have happened to you only once, but we see what the damage of one time can do,” Garretson said.
The criminals behind this threaten to post the info they have on the dark web, and once it’s out, it’s like putting toothpaste back in the tube.
“For the administration of justice, we’ll recover from it. I think that part of the Supreme Court notice today was genuine. We’ll recover from it,” Garretson said.
The Supreme Court said the attack is evil and criminal, but the state is working to find a remedy and in the coming weeks and months, all those who are affected by this will be notified
The Johnson County, Kansas, court system was not affected as it’s on a separate online system.