Floyd County’s courts are continuing to function in the wake of a malware attack on the state’s eCourt system, but Court Administrator Phil Hart said Tuesday some operations are on hold.
“We’re keeping a manual record of events and the sort of things we can’t schedule right now …. We can’t schedule hearings — civil, criminal, the whole deal,” Hart said. “We’re optimistic they will be able to recover fairly soon.”
The servers of Georgia’s Administrative Office of the Courts were hit by a ransomware attack Saturday morning and an assessment determined the best move was to take the whole network offline, spokesman Bruce Shaw said in a statement.
The AOC is working with a range of federal and state experts including the FBI, GBI, Georgia Technology Authority, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the Georgia National Guard Cyber Protection Team.
Shaw said a note was found requesting contact with the hackers but no details about the ransom or the method of attack were available Tuesday.
“We have started shifting our efforts to the recovery phase,” he said.
The services that weren’t affected are being moved to another location, Shaw said, and the agency is “exploring alternatives” for those affected.
Shaw said there is no indication that any private information has been compromised.
Hart said Floyd County previously maintained its case management system locally and had a back-up system. The move to the eCourt system — which interfaces with other courts around the state — was completed in February.
The old system was obsolete and voters approved a $500,000 earmark in the 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package for new software.
Superior Court Clerk Barbara Penson’s staff started digitizing documents for another system but she netted a grant that provided the state’s new eCourt set-up for free, an estimated $4 million value.
Hart said court calendars go out about two weeks in advance, so hearings will continue for at least another few weeks.
The family violence court docket is still mostly manual, he noted, so that remains on track. And one Superior Court judge’s office was able to generate a new calendar Monday.
“I don’t know how she managed it but ... we’re making baby steps,” he said. “Everybody’s just holding their breath, waiting for the next email to say we’re up and running again. The effect on the courts will depend on how long we’re down.”
Rome City Manager Sammy Rich said cybersecurity is a major issue for governments and institutions around the country.
“There are hackers everywhere ... In the real world, it’s not a question of if you’ll get hit, but when,” Rich said. “But we have a good IT staff that spends a lot thinking about it. We even test ourselves ... to check where we’re vulnerable.”
The Georgia Municipal Association and Association County Commissioners of Georgia place a heavy emphasis on preparedness, he said, and offer numerous resources to their members.
“The key appears to be how you recover from such an attack ... It’s on everybody’s radar,” he said.
Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter echoed Rich’s comments, adding that the county has redundancies in its system and back-ups.
“You can’t protect against everything, but we have protections in place ... It can hit at any place and at any time, but we feel like we have the appropriate protections in place,” Burkhalter said.
Shaw said the AOC would continue to provide status updates when they are available.