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Clerk of Court office back to normal after hack | News | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Business returned to normal Tuesday at the Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court office, nearly two weeks after the host company for the office’s network system was hacked.

Chief Deputy Clerk of Court Alicia Fussell said Cott Systems, a Columbus, Ohio, company, was originally hacked Christmas Day and that lasted through the week after Christmas.

The network came back up for one day before going down a second time on Jan. 5, a shutdown that lasted until Tuesday.

Fussell said the clerk’s office uses two separate host companies, so only the recording department, which includes conveyances, marriage licenses, and mortgage certificates, was affected.

However, scheduled sheriff’s sales of property were cancelled, mortgage loans could not be closed because no titles searches could be completed which affected the acts of sale, and for a period of time no marriage licenses could be issued.

“Our recording department was dead in the water,” Fussell said but was elated to report that the office should be caught up by the end of the week. “We have two different software providers, so we were lucky we were able to operate.

She said her staff eventually did find a way to issue marriage licenses manually, and once the system was restored, they were properly recorded.

The hack attacked Cott, which manages public records for more than 400 governmental agencies spanning 21 states. Hundreds of local governments were forced to resort to using pen and paper, grinding the process of marriage licenses and real estate transactions to a halt.

Regionally, Livingston and Washington parishes were affected, but St. Tammany Parish uses a different company.

Nationally, governmental agencies from Vermont to New York to Iowa were affected.

The shutdown affected sheriff’s sales of property because TPSO was not able to obtain mortgage certificates, said Chief Jimmy Travis.

“This is one of those deals,” Travis said. “A lot of people don’t see how much money the sheriff’s office spends every year on firewalls. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a law enforcement agency we are a target of attackers.”

Travis said the office was forced to change its email system to Google for security reasons.

“It cost a little bit more but worth it, because email is an entry point (for hackers),” he said. “Anyone that has a computer or computer access (in the sheriff’s office), all are entry points.”

Fussell did say the attack will likely force changes in the way the clerk’s office operates, specifically in the area of real estate.

She said the original method of having volumes of books containing title transfers in the office will not return, but she is considering creating indexes that will be stored on PDFs, so in the event of a shutdown titles can be searched on a hard computer in the clerk’s office.

Fussell said the e-search is still not operational but people are able to come to the office to search records.

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