Hackers Break Into Australian Court Hearing Database

Penka Hristovska
Penka Hristovska Senior Editor
Penka Hristovska Penka Hristovska Senior Editor

The court system for Australia’s second-most-populated state was on the receiving end of a ransomware attack.

Hackers broke into the court system of Court Services Victoria (CSV), an administrative body that supports the operations of the courts in Victoria, accessing audio and video records of hearings in the coroner, magistrates, county, and supreme courts. The attack also impacted transcription services, CSV Chief Executive Louise Anderson said.

CSV reports that the County Court’s criminal and civil cases were the most impacted by the cyberattack and there’s a high possibility that hackers accessed all hearing records on the network.

“The potential access is confined to recordings stored on the network. No other court systems or records, including employee or financial data, were accessed,” said Anderson.

CSV detected the attack on Dec. 21, but Anderson said they believe the hackers have been accessing the network since Dec. 1.

“The cyber incident led to unauthorized access leading to the disruption of the audiovisual in-court technology network, impacting video recordings, audio recordings and transcription services,” Anderson said in a statement.

The ransomware attack won’t impact hearings scheduled for January, he added.

During the attack, hackers locked staff out of their computers, which contained a message reading, “YOU HAVE BEEN PWND.”

The cyber attackers also left behind a ransom note that said they’ll release files they stole from the court system. The note included a link to the dark web, providing instructions for retrieving the compromised files.

CSV has not disclosed any ransomware demands it may have received, citing security reasons. The agency is now reaching out to everyone whose records may have been affected in the attack.

“We understand this will be unsettling for those who have been part of a hearing. We recognize and apologize for the distress that this may cause people,” CSV said in a statement.

About the Author
Penka Hristovska
Penka Hristovska
Senior Editor

About the Author

Penka Hristovska is an editor at SafetyDetectives. She was an editor at several review sites that covered all things technology — including VPNs and password managers — and had previously written on various topics, from online security and gaming to computer hardware. She’s highly interested in the latest developments in the cybersecurity space and enjoys learning about new trends in the tech sector. When she’s not in “research mode,” she’s probably re-watching Lord of The Rings or playing DOTA 2 with her friends.