Foreign cyberattack stole residents' sensitive information from Kansas court system
A sophisticated foreign cyberattack targeted Kansas courts last month, jeopardizing sensitive information, the Kansas Supreme Court said Tuesday in its first explanation of what it previously called a security incident that disrupted courts across the state.
While the court said it immediately disconnected its systems after learning of the attack on Oct. 12, criminals were able to steal personal information and threatened to publish it online unless their demands were met. The court did not say what the criminals demanded.
"We notified state authorities, and since that time have benefited from the continued support provided by the governor's office, legislative leadership, and state and federal law enforcement," the court's statement said. "This attack—on one of our three branches of government—was made against all Kansans."
The courts are still reviewing what personal information the criminals stole, but an early review indicated that they accessed "Office of Judicial Administration files, district court case records on appeal, and other data, some of which may be confidential under law."
The Supreme Court said it will contact people who were directly affected by the attack once it finishes its review of which data were compromised. It will still be weeks before the system comes back online.
"This assault on the Kansas system of justice is evil and criminal," the Supreme Court said. "Today, we express our deep sorrow that Kansans will suffer at the hands of these cybercriminals."
The court's statement finally explains a security incident that has hampered the Kansas Court System for more than a month, adding an additional hurdle to daily legal operations, like paying court fees or applying for a marriage license.
While Johnson County's systems were not affected by the attack because the county still hasn't switched over to the statewide system, most Kansas courts have been forced to operate with paper systems for weeks.
Government is frequently the target of cyberattacks, including individual politicians. Last year, Sen. Jerry Moran's reelection campaign was targeted by a cyberattack that stole more than $700,000 in the midst of the election.
The court said it is working with cybersecurity experts to improve its security system against such attacks. It has not said how the criminals were able to access the system in October.
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