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The US Justice Department’s top national security attorney told lawmakers the DOJ is investigating a cyber breach involving the federal court records management system.
Matt Olsen, head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, has implied the "threat of cyber attacks by foreign nations" as he outlined the investigation to the US House Judiciary Committee, noting that it was an "effort to compromise public judicial dockets".
According to Democratic chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee had only in March learned of the "startling breadth and scope" of the breach.
According to Reuters, the Administrative Office of the US Courts in January 2021 stated that it was adding new security procedures to protect confidential or sealed records following an apparent compromise of its electronic case management and filing system.
Vulnerabilities had been identified as a result of the breach, the federal judiciary stated at the time, which risked compromising highly sensitive non-public documents stored with the courts.
While Olsen could not speak "directly to the nature of the ongoing investigation", he noted that his division was focused on the risk of cyber attacks by foreign nations like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Olsen added that the department was working with the judiciary to investigate and address the matter.
"This is of course a significant concern for us given the nature of the information that is often held by the courts," Olsen told lawmakers
The judiciary has been working to modernise its electronic case management and filing system and the related online portal known as PACER, which is used to access records, citing the risk of cyber attacks on the ageing electronic system.
The Administrative Office, the judiciary's administrative arm, had no immediate comment.
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