UPDATES: PA Court system hack was a DoS attack but hackers still unnamed

12 February 2024- Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Debra Todd provides the following update on the Pennsylvania Courts’ website denial of service cyber attack:

“Last week, the courts were the target of a significant and serious denial of service attack, orchestrated by a faceless and nameless virtual opponent who was intent on attacking our infrastructure and orchestrating a shutdown of our state judicial system.

“These anonymous actors attempted to undermine our mission to make justice accessible and to shutter the operation of the statewide court system. Their malicious efforts were met with tireless resistance by our dedicated team of administrative and information technology professionals, who with support from federal law enforcement and our information technology partners were able to secure and ultimately restore our digital platforms.

“The courts recognize the important role our website plays in providing critical information to the public, media, government officials and employees, and the legal community. While there is no road map for navigating a cyber attack, our team remained focused on developing a strategic plan to bring our systems back online quickly, demonstrating our commitment to ensuring the courts were open and accessible, regardless of the challenge we faced.

“As a result, our website containing news, statistics, court opinions and the civics educational toolkit is back online, along with all e-services and e-commerce options, including PACFile, the Guardianship Tracking System, web dockets and PAePay systems, which were restored last week. With our digital platforms fully operational, those seeking court services, information and educational materials are once again able to access the level of service and support they have come to expect and appreciate from the court system.

“While we are beyond the initial attack, our team remains ever vigilant in our attempts to identify and disarm the threat of continued and future cyber attacks and continues to fully participate in law enforcement’s ongoing investigation.

“On behalf of the Supreme Court, I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and to our information technology partners for their support throughout this incident, as well as to the media for their patience and assistance in informing the public during the temporary outage.”

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a denial of service cyber attack occurs when malicious actors flood the targeted host or network with traffic until the target cannot respond or simply crashes, preventing access for legitimate users.