The Philadelphia online court system has been closed for a month due to a virus that has interrupted access to the network, report specialists from the IICS’s cybersecurity course. “Suddenly the systems started to fail, I even thought the problem was on my computer”, said one of the system managers.
This incident, in addition to similar ones, such as massive ransomware attacks on the Baltimore government, has led legislators and government agencies to begin questioning cities’ capacities to respond to these incidents; now, Philadelphia lawyers have resorted to using paper and pencil to keep their functions active while experts in the cybersecurity course experts try to find a viable solution.
Presumably, the problem is due to malware detected on a few computers on the network. As a precautionary measure, the Philadelphia authorities decided to shut the system; in addition, it has been leaked that system managers hired a cybersecurity service firm to investigate the incident. The physical offices of the state courts work normally.
Although the offices are still working, the use of documentation only in physical format has generated chaos for the courts of the State, because among all the legal processes presented each week have been lost or misplaced files with urgent matters, as foreclosures.
According to the cybersecurity course experts, there is no information available to the public about how long the system will delay to be restored. For its part, the court issued a statement mentioning: “There is no exact date for the reinstatement of our systems; however, we will continue to provide updates on the incident when these are available”.
Although it takes a long time to work, lawyers working with the Philadelphia online cutting system continue to do their job manually. One example is foreclosures, which are reviewed in detail to avoid being treated incorrectly because of the confusion generated by the increase in workload.
Specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) believe that, in case this is a ransomware attack, the government of Philadelphia has made the right decision by not giving in to the demands of the attackers, as there is no guarantee for restoring compromised systems, plus payment for ransom only helps hackers finance their upcoming attacks.