The international activist hacker group Anonymous Legion is claiming responsibility for an attack on the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s website that rendered it unusable for most of Wednesday.

State officials became aware of the “distributed denial-of-service” (DDOS) attack about 8 a.m. Wednesday, around the same time Anonymous Legion e-mailed the Star Tribune.

“Servers have also been penetrated and data has been secured, contrary to what they will tell you,” said Anonymous Legion’s e-mail. “This will occur frequently.”

The group said the act was executed “collectively, through a global attack.” It is known for DDOS attacks on government websites, among others.

The attack is similar to ones that interrupted the site last December. Last year’s attacks were traced to Asia and Canada. The state did not say Wednesday whether the attacks may be linked.

“We are in the process of communicating with the FBI Cyber Task Force about this incident,” Beau Berentson, a spokesman for the state court administration office, said in a written statement.

The website (www.mncourts.gov), visited by thousands every day looking to access court resources and information, was taken offline as the attack was investigated.

Access to the site was restored around 5:15 p.m.

“We have no evidence that any secure data has been inappropriately accessed,” Berentson said.

Other online resources linked through the website are still functioning, including eFiling and eService, the Court Payment Center and remote access to district and appellate court records.

The website was down for several hours from Dec. 21 to 31 in the previous attacks.

“In a DDOS attack, an outside entity attempts to overwhelm an online resource with so much network traffic that it is no longer accessible to legitimate users,” State Court Administrator Jeff Shorba said in a January statement about last year’s attacks. “During these attacks, the Minnesota Judicial Branch did not experience any form of data breach or inappropriate access to court records, nor is there any evidence to suggest that the attackers attempted to gain access to Judicial Branch records or information.”

Those attacks were reported to the federal government and Canadian authorities.

“DDOS attacks are becoming increasingly common against high-profile websites in both the public and private sectors,” Shorba said in January. “While we cannot prevent these attacks from being launched, the Minnesota Judicial Branch is now better prepared to respond to these types of attacks in the future.”

 

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