Pennsylvania courts restores computer systems, website after DDoS attack

The Pennsylvania courts system restored access to its computer networks after a recent DDoS attack took them down.
(Getty Images)

After a distributed denial-of-service attack knocked some Pennsylvania state court web services offline last week, the courts’ computer systems and website have been fully restored, officials said Tuesday.

The attack on Feb. 5 targeted the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ website, downing several of the courts’ computer systems, including online docket sheets and an electronic case document filing portal. While officials said the attack didn’t compromise any data or interrupt the courts’ regularly scheduled operations, court officials were forced to log court filings by paper and by mail.

“The courts recognize the important role our website plays in providing critical information to the public, media, government officials and employees, and the legal community,” Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd said in a news release. “With our digital platforms fully operational, those seeking court services, information and educational materials are once again able to access the level of service and support they have come to expect and appreciate from the court system.”

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a denial-of-service attack aims to prevent legitimate users from accessing a website by overloading it with requests and is usually accompanied by a demand for ransom in exchange for restoring system access. Pennsylvania’s state courts claims it never received such demand and did not communicate with the hackers.


Todd described the hackers as a “faceless and nameless virtual opponent,” adding that CISA, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating the incident.

Local courts systems nationwide have been the target of cyberattacks in recent months. Earlier this week, the Office of Colorado State Public Defenders was forced to shut down its computer network after officials became aware of malware-encrypted data within its system. The website for Kansas district court cases came back online in January after an Oct. 12 cyberattack caused a months-long outage.

“While we are beyond the initial attack, our team remains ever vigilant in our attempts to identify and disarm the threat of continued and future cyber attacks and continues to fully participate in law enforcement’s ongoing investigation,” Todd said.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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