Pennsylvania statewide court agency website hit by disabling cyberattack: officials

The Pennsylvania state courts agency's website was hit by a cyberattack that did not appear to compromise any data, but left some online systems disabled, officials said Sunday night.

The federal government's lead cybersecurity agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. were investigating the attack, Chief Justice Debra Todd said in a statement.

She called it a "denial of service" cyberattack, using the federal government’s description for when attackers "flood the targeted host or network with traffic until the target cannot respond or simply crashes, preventing access for legitimate users."

Chief Justice Todd provided the following update Monday evening on the Pennsylvania Courts’ website denial of service cyber attack:

"As of 5:20 p.m., portions of the website including PACFile, GTS, web dockets and court summaries, and PAePay have been restored. Our court information technology and executive team continues to work closely with the FBI and Homeland Security to analyze and investigate the cyber attack. Work also continues to further assess and address website services which are not yet accessible. While there is still no indication that any court data has been compromised, we appreciate the patience and cooperation of the public, media and legal professionals as we work to bring the entire website back online. We reiterate that, amid this event, the courts have remained open and accessible."

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a denial of service cyberattack occurs when malicious actors flood the targeted host or network with traffic until the target cannot respond or simply crashes, preventing access for legitimate users.

The courts agency, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, did not immediately identify the attackers or a motive. The agency also didn't say whether its cybersecurity measures worked as designed or whether the attackers demanded money or a ransom.

Among the disabled online systems were use of use of online docket sheets and an electronic case document filing portal.

The state’s courts remained open, Todd said.