December 7, 2023 | Industry News

Kansas Court Record Access Issues: What Happened?

If you’ve been keeping up on the latest background screening industry news, you’ll know that a recent security breach of the Kansas online court system is hindering the ability of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to efficiently process criminal record searches in the state. Turnaround times have skyrocketed, recent cases are unavailable, and backlogs are growing… but what exactly has been going on? We’re here to give you the intel on what we know and share our advice to help you and your clients get informed and move forward with confidence.

Everything You Need to Know

On October 13th, the Kansas Judicial Branch (KJB) announced that a security incident occurred, leading to the temporary shutdown of the online court system. According to a recent article, “Cybercriminals hacked into the Kansas court system, stole sensitive data and threatened to post it on the dark web in a ransomware attack that has hobbled access to records...”

Unfortunately, the initial two-week timeline to address this breach and restore the court systems remains unmet. On December 1st, the KJB announced a tentative plan to restore the online system by the end of the year. (We’ll keep our fingers crossed). Topeka, Kansas - November 9th, 2023

In the meantime, there are a few things you should know. The KJB has opened a public access center that houses 20 computers with search capabilities. However, terminal use is heavily restricted, available only by appointment, and restricted to two 30-minute slots per individual each day. It’s important to note that the terminals do not have case information from October 12, 2023 to the present date due to the security incident, so any cases filed after that time require users to contact the originating court and users must have the case number being sought.

There is a little bit of light in the darkness, though. Johnson County, the highest populated county in Kansas, has its’ own standalone case management system, therefore it has been unaffected by the cyber-attack. 

The KJB’s Future Plans

We confirmed that there are plans to add terminals to courts throughout the state, but there is no ETA on when this will occur nor is there information on how many PATs will be available in each court. 

A Path Forward

We know this issue has caused immense challenges and delays in conducting criminal background checks in the state of Kansas. Therefore, it’s essential to identify short-term solutions until the system is back online.

InformData offers a viable alternative to avoid lengthy turnaround times and a large backlog. Our Kansas statewide search option utilizes the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) Criminal History Record Search index, which has been unaffected by the incident. Although not exhaustive, this solution provides results within 5-7 days, ensuring more predictable turnaround times compared to the constrained use of public access terminals. More information on the differences between statewide and county-level searches can be seen in the chart below.

Screen Shot 2023-12-06 at 9.25.06 AM

At InformData, thanks to our Direct-Source methodology, we have a team of boots-on-the-ground experts who are monitoring the situation daily so we can continue to provide updates to our client base as new developments emerge.

If you have any questions or if we can assist you in any way, please reach out to our team of experts.

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