Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Update on Possible Hacker Attack

After the PACER  and CM/ECF outage on Friday January 24, I asked the PACER service center if they had any comment.   They were kind enough to respond on January 27.   Here is the latest information: 
On Friday January 24th, PACER and a number of other federal judiciary web sites, experienced a denial of service attack.  The attack resulted in a loss of service for about four hours Friday afternoon. No judiciary records were compromised during the attack. Because the Electronic Case Filing system was not operational in some courts during this period, attorneys should contact their local courts with regard to any filing deadline issues that may have arisen.
According to Wikipedia, a denial of service attack is "an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users."    Wikipedia further explained that:
One common method of attack involves saturating the target machine with external communications requests, so much so that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered essentially unavailable. Such attacks usually lead to a server overload. In general terms, DoS attacks are implemented by either forcing the targeted computer(s) to reset, or consuming its resources so that it can no longer provide its intended service or obstructing the communication media between the intended users and the victim so that they can no longer communicate adequately.
According to ZDnet.com, a group calling itself the European Cyber Army has claimed responsibility.   The ZDnet.com article also suggested that the system could have gone down due to a technical glitch instead.   

So at this time, we have two possibilities for what might have happened and one potential culprit but no motive so far.   

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