Cyberattacks and ransomware are increasing, with the criminal justice system among the hardest hit. Loss of networks, compromised criminal cases, and even 911 dispatch centers taken down are just a few examples of what is occurring throughout the US at an alarming rate. For example, recently, a breach to the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department’s computer system had hackers demanding a $4 million ransom. As a result, the stolen sensitive data put their police officers at risk and compromised public safety.
The number of opportunities for cyberattacks is growing every day due to multiple agencies transferring highly sensitive data among one another across countless endpoint devices. Keeping the entire criminal justice system operating efficiently and securely needs to be a priority. If there is a lack of trust in our criminal justice system, then the whole fabric of our law-abiding society starts to unravel.
Big or Small Agencies – Hackers Don’t Care
Stolen sensitive information runs the gambit and is often shared publicly, compromising safety and threatening lives. Examples include victims statements, employee data, domestic violence reports, and even data revealing confidential informants.
But sometimes, hackers go after networks to disrupt operations. For example, they shut down a 911 dispatch system for over 24 hours. In another case, officers could not access critical information during traffic stops. And in another city, they took down the whole network, disabling phones, office emails, fingerprinting, and background checks.
Imagine the legal ramifications when digitally stored evidence is tampered with or stolen. For example, charges could be contested and possibly dropped due to the break-in chain of custody, letting criminals free to commit crimes again.
Vulnerable Virtual and Edge Devices
In this digital age, new technologies have changed how segments of this industry interact with one another and the general public. Today criminal justice is much more than the deterrence, punishment, and rehabilitation of criminals. Instead, it has evolved into a process of delivering accountability, developing and maintaining transparency, and repairing and maintaining public trust, all in a constantly changing virtual environment.
It all starts with a 911 call—the call center gathers personal identifying information about the caller and the incident. They dispatch the first responders needed to help the citizen in distress and update those first responders via phone, computer, and/or radio installed in the vehicles. Finally, they use multiple endpoints to communicate across various law enforcement and first responder units.
Often first responders use body cameras, tasers, cameras, computers to write reports and notes, and other endpoint devices that record crucial interactions with the public. This data is sensitive and preserving it for use in the courtroom later is a high priority. After arresting someone, they are booked into the local prison system. The personal information for criminals, victims, and witnesses is electronically stored and shared with the local prosecutor’s office.
Many employees within the prosecutor’s office work these cases electronically; secretaries, paralegals, interns, and the attorneys themselves. Most offices have desktop computers, laptops, and other electronic devices to prepare for court and present evidence to judges and juries. The prosecutor’s office also electronically shares files and communicates with local laboratories that perform DNA testing, ballistics, and other scientific comparisons to confirm the correct person was arrested and build their case against them. Laboratory technicians must preserve the integrity of this evidence so attorneys can authenticate it later in a courtroom. If any evidence is compromised, it jeopardizes the entire case and possibly results in a miscarriage of justice.
The prosecutor’s offices must turn over evidence to defense attorneys. Over the years, this discovery process has become electronic. It’s not unusual for a prosecutor’s office to email entire files after redacting sensitive data about victims and witnesses. Both defense and prosecuting attorneys electronically file motions and other pleadings with the courts. State court systems and clerk’s offices are moving to e-filing and electronic recordings of all court proceedings instead of the traditional court reporters. When citizens are called for jury duty and fulfill their civic duty, the clerk’s office gathers personal identifying information and shares it with judges and attorneys for jury selection. Each judge, with a staff of administrative assistants, law clerks, and secretaries, accesses juror information and works on each case file that is passed to them electronically, leaving the entire judicial branch vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Once convicted, probation and parole monitor the offender. If sentenced to jail time, the courts communicate directly with the prisons. The prison system operates its day-to-day functions electronically, from accessing electronic case files containing information about inmates to employees communicating directly with one another. In addition, there are broader security features like controlling the individual jail cells, locked doors and gates within and surrounding the entire prison system.
How the Criminal Justice System Can Battle Hackers, Leaks, and Compromised Data
Preserving the integrity of the entire criminal justice process is the highest priority. It must ensure a fair trial for the accused, justice for victims, and a trustworthy and civilized procedure for all members of society. Digital fingerprints in a case file moving through the criminal justice system is vulnerable to hackers, leaks, or compromised data. Cybersecurity threats across multiple government offices and agencies require endpoint security and data backup and protection. It is a priority for many IT departments; unfortunately, they are understaffed and have budget constraints.
Partnering with Acronis SCS, one of our Managed Service Providers (MSP), and leveraging Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud can solve your cybersecurity, budget constraints, and staffing issues.
Protect Data With Our CJIS Verified Solution
Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) compliance is what criminal justice systems at all levels of government and law enforcement agree regarding data security and encryption standards. Purpose-built for the US public sector, Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud is CJIS compliant, meaning our product meets the highest criminal justice-specific data and encryption standards in existence.
It is also FIPS 140-2 validated and HIPAA compliant and comes with a fully integrated, comprehensive, and cross-functional mix of cyber and data protection tools. The FIPS 140-2 validation ensures the highest grade data encryption, which is compliant with the requirements of the Federal Government. HIPAA compliance also guarantees the highest levels of data confidentiality and integrity standards. For compliance and certifications that are self-certifying, we take it one step further and hire outside consultants to conduct an audit on our behalf.
In addition to certification, Acronis SCS is all about being US-based. Our support and data centers are located 100% in the US, and all our employees are US citizens.
Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud offers a full suite of robust, certified-compliant data backup protection and cybersecurity solution designed to fulfill your agency’s unique requirements. Our multilayered approach blocks ransomware and other cyberthreats while supporting disaster recovery.
Procure Your Cybersecurity Solution Through One of Our MSP Partners
With the new Infrastructure Bill, now is the perfect time to maximize the funding you receive to purchase our cloud solution from an MSP partner and leverage them to fill the gaps where IT staffing is an issue.
Don’t just take our word for it. Try Acronis SCS Cyber Protect Cloud for 30 days free. See how you can confidently protect your most sensitive data in the most highly targeted computing landscapes.