SWFL public defender says ‘no evidence’ info was compromised in malware attack

Reporter: Sara Girard
Published: Updated:
Credit: via WINK News.

There is no evidence any sensitive information has been compromised in the recent malware attack on Southwest Florida’s Public Defender’s Office, said Kathy Smith of the 20th Judicial Circuit.

However, Smith recommends everyone keep an eye out on their personal accounts.

While systems aren’t fully back to normal yet, Smith told WINK News the cybersecurity team hired to handle the malware intrusion is making progress. As of Sunday night, the team was able to restore the office’s internal database called IJIS, which contains all kinds of sensitive case information. That is back up and running.

Smith said, when they learned of the malware attack on April 1, she intentionally brought down the database to prevent the malware from spreading.

Smith says the office has an extensive backup of all the information, and they’ve been able to keep working while it’s been down; although, sources close to the office say it has been difficult.

That cybersecurity team has removed, scanned and reset every computer in use that day and is starting to bring them back on line this week.

Smith told WINK News the attackers got around multiple layers of protections, and the cybersecurity team is going to come back with proposals on what else they can do to make it stronger.

Smith said the attackers targeted her first.

“The analogy that I use is they changed the lock on my front door,” Smith said. “They changed the password, so I couldn’t get in. But luckily, I was able to get in through the back door. I have backups of all the information that was contained on my side of the IJIS file. So my files are intact.”

At this point, there is no indication anyone’s personal information was leaked.

“We have a documents tab where we store information like discovery, like motions that we’ve filed with the courts and things like that,” Smith said. “I have no evidence whatsoever that any of that information has been compromised; although, I cannot completely rule it out.”

As an extra precaution, Smith said she will soon release a notice to let people know to monitor their accounts and how to protect themselves against attacks like these in the future.

Smith said this is still an active investigation and doesn’t know who’s responsible, but Lee County’s website should be restored by mid-week, and the remaining offices will be restored by the end of the week.

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