Floyd County court officials are still struggling with temporary fixes in the wake of a malware attack that took down the state’s eCourt system they depended on.
Superior Court Clerk Barbara Penson said there’s been no word on a resolution from the Administrative Office of the Courts.
“They’ve asked us to not even call,” she said Monday. “The project manager said we’ll hear from them when ‘we are able to stand eCourt up again’ and when the federal investigators release something to them.”
Penson’s staffers, with the help of the Superior Court judges’ offices, are keeping the courts functioning through the use of the old – and nearly obsolete – Sustain system.
But they’re also working overtime to enter the records from Feb. 2, when the transfer away from Sustain was completed, to June 29, when the eCourt system was hacked.
“We’re staying ahead of the new cases by working Saturdays ... We’ve figured out a survival route, but it’s temporary. We can’t do this forever,” Penson said.
Floyd County Juvenile Court Judge Greg Price was harder hit. He said Monday that most juvenile court records are not public and they were kept on the Administrative Office of the Courts’ server.
“All our data was maintained by the AOC – up until the time it was corrupted,” Price said. “We lost literally all of our data, historical and current.”
What’s saving operations now is a parallel web-based calendar he created after he was first elected in 2012, which is maintained on a different server. It provides the case numbers, names of the children and when their hearings are scheduled.
“There’s no case information ... (but) without that, we’d be asking everyone who showed up who they are and what they were here for,” Price said.
There are hard copies of the case files that can be manually searched, he said. And La Sonja Holcomb, the county’s IT director, has recovered some of the data that might be used to rebuild an archive.
But there are no locally managed Sustain records for the Juvenile Court to fall back on.
“Because there’s no case management system for the new cases, we can’t even pull up information on who the mother is and things like that,” Price said. “The AOC keeps saying they’re working on it, but they have nothing else to tell us.”
Both Price and Penson speak often of their staff’s willingness and ability to find work-arounds and they’re quick to say they don’t blame the AOC for their situations. SecureLore Solutions lists more than 20 recent cyber attacks on Georgia agencies and institutions.
“This, unfortunately, is going to be ongoing,” Price said. “We don’t fault the AOC. Those terrorists who broke in and hacked the system were professionals.”
Messages left on the website indicated the hackers would want a ransom paid to de-encrypt the data. However, AOC officials initially said no ransom had been sought. Since then, no information about the investigation has been released.
Penson said she and the four Superior Court judges will eventually have to decide what they’ll do for the future. The Sustain system was being phased out even before the eCourt system was phased in.
“We can’t do this for the long-term,” she said.
Price said he’s waiting for guidance from the AOC, which is slowly rebuilding its system. The latest update, on July 31, said technology applications would be hosted on Amazon Web Services “and we are working with security experts to ensure segmented back-ups.”
Meanwhile, the juvenile court judge is mulling just how long he can hope for his data to be restored or if he should start looking for an entirely new system and start from scratch.
“For now, we are fully operational. We are serving the Floyd County children and families’ needs,” he said.