TOPEKA—Efforts are underway to bring judicial branch information systems back online in phases, although there is not a firm timeline when they will be fully restored.
“Our phased recovery includes upgrading firewalls, rebuilding our network, and securing our technology environment,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “We are following best practices for restoring and managing our information systems safely and securely, and it takes time.”
Beyond rebuilding a safe and secure environment for its information systems, the judicial branch is planning how it will restore access to court case data. It will occur incrementally, and it will start with access to district court case information through a network of computers in the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka.
“Kansas courts have continued to process cases while our information systems have been offline, but it is at a slower pace due to our current dependency on paper documents,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “Having access to district court case data, even on a limited basis, will help courts better track cases. It will also help fill information needs related to real estate transactions, background checks, conflict checks, and more.”
Information service centers
Soon the judicial branch will have two information centers in the Kansas Judicial Center. One bank of computer terminals will be used to support district courts. It will be staffed by several employees from the Office of Judicial Administration and volunteers from nearby district courts. Together, they will access data and records to fill district court information needs.
A second group of computers in a first-floor meeting room will be used for public access to district court case information. To manage demand, the Office of Judicial Administration will set up an appointment system. People who need to search district court case information will use the appointment system to sign up for a 30-minute session. Searches must be done in person in the Judicial Center.
Initially, the public access center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If demand is great, and staffing available, evening hours could be offered.
The Office of Judicial Administration will announce by news release and on the judicial branch website when the public access center will open and how appointments can be scheduled.
October 12 security incident
Kansas court information systems have been offline since October 12, when the Office of Judicial Administration experienced a security incident. The office activated its response process, which included notifying the Kansas Information Security Office of the security incident.
Law enforcement is also aware of the security incident, and the Office of Judicial Administration is cooperating with their inquiry into the matter.
The Office of Judicial Administration has been working with outside experts to investigate what happened, how it happened, and what is affected. That investigation is ongoing.
Luckert said support from the executive and legislative branches has been essential to incident response. The Office of Information Technology Services and its chief information security officer have provided critical resources, including experts in security, networks, servers, and database administration.
“We are grateful for the support we have received from the executive and legislative branches of government.” Luckert said. “By working together, all state information technology systems are made more secure.”