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TEXARKANA, Texas — The ransomware attack on Texarkana Water Utilities which impacted a number of local public agencies comes on the heels of similar attacks suffered by Texas courts and the federal government.

The Texas Office of Court Administration was besieged by a ransomware attack that impacted Texas' appellate courts and was discovered May 8. The OCA set up an alternative website within a week of the attack to allow for posting of important orders regarding the pandemic, updates on the attack and to post appellate opinions.

The 6th District Court of Appeals in Texarkana did not post an opinion from May 9 to June 10. Regular releases of opinions from that court resumed June 11 though many other Texas appellate courts were able to resume posting opinions on the OCA site much earlier.

According to Texas Lawyer, the OCA was able to restore services using backup systems and the site was fully restored by early July.

Widespread computer hacking by suspected foreign actors on U.S. government agencies and private sector businesses has prompted action by the federal courts to protect sensitive documents filed under seal and not publicly available.

"In mid-December, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an emergency directive regarding 'a known compromise involving SolarWinds Orion products that are currently being exploited by malicious actors.' The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) immediately notified courts of this development and in response, the Judiciary has suspended all national and local use of this IT network monitoring and management tool," according to a notice on the U.S. Courts website.

Highly sensitive federal court documents will now be filed in paper form or on a storage device such as a thumb drive and stored in a "secure, stand-alone computer system."

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