Login | June 18, 2019

The Akron Muni Court was hacked, too

Technology for Lawyers

Published: May 23, 2019

When the city of Akron was hacked and their computer system was shut down at the end of January, one little-reported effect of the cyberattack was on the municipal court’s system. The court’s computers are a part of the city’s system, and the attack affected the court in the same way that it affected the rest of the city.

Or maybe even worse, actually. The following is based on recent conversations with the people-who-know at muni court.

Following the attack, the entire court computer system was shut down as a way of isolating the virus used in the attack. Every server was shut down and thoroughly checked to make sure that the virus wasn’t loaded onto the individual machine. This has been a very long and arduous process that was still not complete as of this writing (around the end of March).

Probably no data was lost in the system, but obviously no data could be accessed while the server that held the data was offline. And checking and re-starting each server and each computer individually is taking a lot of time.

That is particularly annoying to the individual courts and their judges. Each court has its own internal computing, which handles each court’s individual, self-created forms. Those forms are/were inaccessible during the shutoff, which caused each court to have to either re-create their forms and templates or use the standard forms that they had rejected in the first place.

Judges do not like that sort of thing. In fact, this event may be a wake-up call to the court to create its own stand-alone system, untethered from the city system (that was an Us joke. I know-- Get Out of here).

Along with the city, the court is adding protections to help avoid future hacks, but of course, the questions remain—like why these protections weren’t in place in the first place. And as anyone who reads this column knows, I don’t think any system is unhackable. The mayor said at the hacking press conference in January that the city’s data was backed up every night. The court’s wasn’t?