Cyberattack bedevils Kansas courts, requiring them to 'go analog,' while UK law firms grapple with vendor breach

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The Kansas judicial branch is still dealing with the aftermath of an Oct. 12 cyberattack that affected computer systems used by district and appellate courts.

The court system disconnected its computer systems in 104 counties from external access after discovering the breach, which resulted in stolen data and a threat to post it on a dark website unless demands were met, the Kansas Supreme Court said in a statement published Nov. 21. Johnson County, Kansas wasn’t affected because it uses a different system.

The shutdown forced lawyers and litigants to “go analog” and “made it mostly impossible to pay fines, file for divorces or complete other legal tasks online,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 25.

Kansas Legal Services lawyer Kayla Clark told the newspaper that everything was being filed by fax.

When clients want help, Clark is unable to use the online system to see case histories or past legal documents. If a judge has signed a document, she has to wait for file-stamped copies to mail to clients, she said.

The Kansas judiciary announced tentative plans Tuesday to restore most computer systems used by the state’s district courts by the end of the year, including e-filing and case-processing systems. That timeline, however, is “subject to change,” the announcement said.

The Kansas Supreme Court attributed the breach to “a sophisticated foreign cyberattack” in the Nov. 21 statement. “This assault on the Kansas system of justice is evil and criminal,” the justices said.

Other publications with coverage included the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Kansas City Star.

Law firms in the United Kingdom are also dealing with a service outage as a result of an attack on a service provider that provides cloud and managed information technology services, report Law360 and TechCrunch (via Bloomberg Law).

The service provider, CTS, said in a statement the service outage was caused by a “cyber incident,” and it affects “a portion of the services we deliver to some of our clients.”

CTS did not say how many firms were affected, leading to speculation. Rob Hailstone, the chief executive of an association of 700 firms called the Bold Legal Group, told Law360 that he thinks that somewhere between 80 and 100 firms were affected.

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