Cyberattack Shutters Federal Court Websites

Saturday, 25 Jan 2014 04:01 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Hackers hit the federal courts system with a denial-of-service attack that stopped access to several government websites for hours.

The PACER site, which allows access to the federal electronic court filing database, along with uscourts.gov and other federal sites around the country were affected in the Friday afternoon hack attack, reports The Washington Post.

A service advisory was posted by PACER administrators to warn visitors that they could have trouble accessing the service.



According to an email obtained by Politico,  a federal court clerk in Arkansas indicated that the shutdown appeared to be "a new national cyberattack on the judiciary," but did not provide further information on the attack or its origins.

The word cyberattack is generally used to describe malicious acts to put systems in danger, the Post said, not for online vandalism, which is usually the case where denial-of-service attacks are concerned.

According to a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, whose site was also hit in the attack, the stoppage began at 3:22 p.m., and access was restored by 7 p.m., reports The Washington Times.

The outage did not affect the Supreme Court's website, and the cyberattacks on the court system do not appear to be related to a massive outage on Google's Gmail system, reports USA Today.

Friday afternoon, more than 42 million users of Gmail, Google Plus, Calendar, and Documents could not use their accounts for between 22 and 55 minutes. Google said on its blog Friday night that a software bug triggered the outage.

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