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Federal Courts Suffered 'Staggering' Cybersecurity Breach

The Justice Department is investigating a data breach of the federal courts system dating to early 2020. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said Thursday that “three hostile foreign actors” attacked the U.S. Courts’ document filing system, causing a “system security failure.” His comments at a committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department’s National Security Division were the first public disclosure of the hack, reports Politico. Nadler said the committee learned in March about the “startling breadth and scope” of the breach, which differed from from the SolarWinds hack in late 2020. SolarWinds involved Russian government-backed hackers infiltrating the networks of dozen U.S. federal agencies, including the federal courts.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen told the committee that DOJ is “working very closely with the judicial conference and judges around the country to address this issue." A committee staffer said that “the sweeping impact [the hack] may have had on the operation of the Department of Justice is staggering.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts expressing “serious concerns that the federal judiciary has hidden” the consequences of the data breach from Congress and the public. “The federal judiciary has yet to publicly explain what happened and has refused multiple requests to provide unclassified briefings to Congress,” Wyden wrote. David Sellers, a judiciary spokesperson, said the courts face "a significant threat to our electronic case management system.” He said a Judiciary IT Security Task Force would make recommendations for ways to strengthen security further.