Sunday, February 21, 2021

Radio silence re: ransomware attack on Texas courts

Your correspondent received a notice my information was in a data breach at a company called Blackbaud which is a digital platform for managing nonprofit donors. The company paid a ransomware demand, despite advisories against doing so from the US Treasury. Insurance companies, by contrast, have defended ransomware payouts

This reminds me we've received almost zero information about the ransomware attack on Texas courts last year, and no journalist of whom I'm aware has dug into the topic beyond notices based on agency press releases.

The breach impacted not just the Texas court system but all the agencies under the Office of Court Administration's umbrella, including the Forensic Science Commission, the State Prosecuting Attorney, the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs.

I've heard anecdotally the OCFW faced problems filing briefs in the aftermath of the breach. The Forensic Science Commission was in the middle of rolling out accreditation for forensic analysts when it happened: no word on how any of that was impacted.

Not only has there been virtually no journalism on the topic, there were no public hearings in the interim (the year between Texas' biennial legislative sessions) for legislators to learn what happened or how to prevent it from happening again. It's been near-complete radio silence.

I'd like to believe Texas officials quietly fixed the problem and it won't happen again, but after watching how the state was managed during last week's Snowpocalypse, who believes anyone in state government is either a) competent enough to actually fix problems and b) humble enough not to brag about it if they did? Grits suspects the silence instead is cover for problems we weren't told about.

MORE: Here's an academic piece by David Slayton from the Office of Court Administration giving the most detail I've seen on the Texas courts breach. ALSO: There was another major ransomware attack on CJ systems in Texarkana in December.


Polunsky Death Row-Voice of the Voiceless said...

This is indeed very concerning and please keep us up to date if you find anything else out, especially with the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs. I wonder how often the ransom payments are actually made?

meglavoie said...

OCA's Administrative Director recently published a detail account of what happened during the Ransomware Attack. You can read the article here

The Judiciary has been transparent throughout the entire process and provided updates regularly. We are happy to answer any questions and are eager to help others learn from this experience so it doesn’t happen to them - all you have to do is ask!

Rowdy Instincts said...

meglavoie...the only transparency in Texas is its opaqueness. the State Legislature, Law Enforcement and Judiciary are counting on the states inadequate education system to keep them in office long enough to make a few bucks on their corruption schemes and lining the pockets of all the "good ol' boys". If the snowcopalypse hasn't riled up the voters then Texas is going to repeat these fiascos over and over again.
the corona virus pandemic wont last forever as cover for not practicing due diligence when appropriate.

JJ said...

What is more concerning is the full compromise of local government information systems and yet not one peep to their constituents.

M. D. Cohen said...