Earlier this month, the personal court records for residents of Lubbock County, located in the US state of Texas, were exposed when the county transitioned to a new computer software system. The exposed data contained non-disclosure orders, criminal cases, and civil and family law records.
According to the county’s official website, Lubbock County Defense Lawyers Association and county officials are not on the same page concerning how to define the incident.
In a news release from the County, Judge Curtis Parrish said: “On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, Lubbock County Information and Technology Department became aware that certain court records that were previously unavailable for review by the public had become viewable under Lubbock County’s new software system. Some of these records include non-disclosure orders, criminal cases, civil and family law records. This access portal has now been blocked temporarily until we can identify which court records maybe [sic] accessed by the parties, attorneys, and the general public.
This was not a data breach [sic], or an issue where the computer system was compromised. Lubbock County will continue to review policies concerning all court records, in our effort to make these documents accessible to the attorneys and the public.”
However, an earlier release by the Lubbock County Defense Lawyers Association characterized the incident as a data breach. The association said it became aware of the situation on September 10.
“This data includes information on individuals who have had criminal cases expunged or non-disclosure orders signed in their criminal case. This breach affected cases at all levels and in all courts in Lubbock County. Some individuals’ data have been removed from the public access system, while other individuals’ data are still available,” said Lubbock County Defense Lawyers Association in their news release.
The attacks on local governments is a growing concern for law enforcement agencies and government officials. Due to their shoestring budget, local governments rarely have dedicated security experts and that leaves a huge hole in their security. In March 2021, a report from consumer tech information site Comparitech revealed that American government organizations suffered a loss of $18.88 billion due to cyber-attacks.
Over the past three years, 246 ransomware attacks struck U.S. government organizations. These attacks potentially affected over 173 million people and nearly cost $52.88 billion. The motive of most of these attacks was to halt processes, interrupt services and cause disruption, not to steal data, according to the report.