Florida Agencies Struggle with Cyberattacks

In a recent development, more than three months following a cyberattack on the computer system supporting the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, numerous contractors responsible for providing crucial services to at-risk and troubled youths find themselves still unable to access the network. The ongoing efforts to restore the network were further complicated by a subsequent cyberattack on the Florida Department of Health’s Vital Statistics System, causing widespread outages. This system, essential for processing birth and death certificates, among other critical records, was compromised by cyber-thieves identified as RansomHub, who issued threats to release department data on the dark web if a ransom was not paid by a specified deadline.

The repercussions of the interruption of the vital statistics system have been far-reaching, leading to delays in funerals and financial hardships for individuals requiring death certificates for various purposes such as bank account modifications, insurance claims, or updates to Social Security benefits. Despite the challenges posed by the cyberattacks, the health department has been actively engaging with law enforcement and relevant stakeholders to address the temporary system outage, as confirmed by agency spokeswoman Jae Williams in a recent email communication.

To mitigate the impact of the system disruption, the health department has collaborated with funeral homes and healthcare facilities to implement offline procedures for issuing death certificates during this period. Additionally, county health departments have been equipped with the necessary resources to continue issuing death certificates offline, ensuring minimal disruption for families in need. State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo reassured the public that the majority of the agency’s operations and services remain operational despite the ongoing challenges.

Furthermore, the incident involving the Vital Statistics System occurred just months after the cyberattack on the Department of Juvenile Justice network, known as the Juvenile Justice Information System. Although the network remains inaccessible to many contractors who play a crucial role in providing services to at-risk youths, agency employees have regained access. The agency has been diligently restoring the system in phases to ensure data security and integrity, although the prolonged downtime has raised concerns among cybersecurity professionals like Aaron Ward, chief information security officer for iVenture Solutions, who highlighted the importance of swift and effective response to such cybersecurity threats.

Senator Jennifer Bradley, chair of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, commended the Department of Juvenile Justice for their prompt actions to safeguard the data in the JJIS system and ensure continued services for children. While acknowledging the evolving nature of technology and the need for continuous improvement in cybersecurity measures, Senator Bradley emphasized the importance of swift and effective response to potential breaches to protect sensitive information and prevent data exposure.

Related Articles

Back to top button