The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is investigating a potential compromise of the federal courts’ case management and electronic case files system which stores millions of highly sensitive and confidential judiciary records.
US Judiciary is also working on immediately adding extra safeguards and security procedures to protect the highly sensitive court documents (HSDs) filed with the courts.
“The AO is working with the Department of Homeland Security on a security audit relating to vulnerabilities in the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files system (CM/ECF) that greatly risk compromising highly sensitive non-public documents stored on CM/ECF, particularly sealed filings,” the Judiciary said.
“An apparent compromise of the confidentiality of the CM/ECF system due to these discovered vulnerabilities currently is under investigation. Due to the nature of the attacks, the review of this matter and its impact is ongoing.”
Newly filed confidential documents will only be stored on a “secure stand-alone computer system” and will not be uploaded to CM/ECF.
The newly enacted safeguards following the start of this ongoing investigation are designed to guard the public trust and the integrity of the operation and administration of the federal Judiciary’s courts.
The AO has also suspended all national and local use of the SolarWinds Orion platform in mid-December following a DHS-CISA emergency directive requiring all federal civilian agencies to disconnect or power down SolarWinds software on their networks.
On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) also said that the SolarWinds hackers may have gained access to roughly 3% of the department’s Office 365 mail accounts.
US DOJ currently employs over 115,000 people which translates to around 3450 Office 365 mailboxes potentially breached in this attack.
A joint FBI, CISA, NSA, and ODNI statement also said on Tuesday that a Russian-backed hacking group is likely behind the SolarWinds supply-chain attack. The federal agencies also added that only 10 US government agencies have been targeted in additional hacking activity after the initial breach.
“We fully appreciate the practical implications of taking these steps and the administrative burden they will place on courts, yet any such burdens are outweighed by the need to preserve the confidentiality of sealed filings that are at risk of compromise,” James C. Duff, Secretary of the US Judicial Conference said.