The First Judicial Circuit, which serves courthouses in Florida counties including Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton, is grappling with a cybersecurity breach that severely affected its administrative systems. Chief Judge John Miller confirmed that their internal investigation has established a data breach involving personal information. The breach, initially termed a “security event,” impacted electronic court operations and was first announced on October 2.
While the exact number of affected individuals remains uncertain, the ALPHV/BlackCat ransomware group claimed responsibility for the attack, asserting access to employees’ Social Security numbers and intricate court system data. Despite the breach, the local IT teams and county clerks have played a significant role in maintaining court operations throughout the cyberattack.
The Florida Office of the State Courts Administrator (OSCA), serving as the chief administrative officer for the state’s 20 circuit courts, faced a security breach within the local administrative structure of the First Circuit. In a positive light, Escambia’s Clerk and Comptroller, Pam Childers, noted that her office’s court documentation remained unaffected by the breach, specifically mentioning the safety of comptroller data, payroll, and other records.
Despite the breach’s repercussions, the outstanding efforts of the IT teams and clerks of court have ensured that court files remain accessible, helping to maintain operations. The incident also rendered the court’s audio recording system, CourtSmart, inoperative, leading to the engagement of stenographers for recording proceedings.
The data breach in Florida’s First Circuit has generated concerns and consequences for court operations, and although personal information exposure has been confirmed, the exact scope and impact of the breach continue to evolve as the investigation proceeds.