The Future of Justice & Cybersecurity
April 01, 2022 by
With cyberattacks on the rise, so too are stories about government agencies and departments that have been victims. Jamie Cabe, chief of staff for Rockdale County, Georgia, recently joined to discuss his jurisdiction’s experiences with cybersecurity incidents and the successful adjustments his team made in response.
Courts and Justice Impact
Unique to Cabe’s story is the impact of two security incidents on his county’s eight criminal justice entities. From superior, state, magistrate, and probate courts to the district attorney and sheriff’s office, these entities relied on an on-premises network for their operations.
“When both of those incidents happened, it affected our network and prevented us from conducting business in our courts and justice offices,” Cabe explained. “In one instance, we were down for two weeks. In the other, we were down for approximately a week, so obviously that hindered our business quite a bit as we could not provide services to our community.”
The effects were widespread. The sheriff’s office, for instance, couldn’t process new incident reports or investigate crimes with case files locked in the network. Jail staff couldn’t access software was housed on-site, and the many e-filers who were used to doing business with the courts could no longer do so.
A Shift for Prevention
Cabe noted that along with these significant security incidents, there had been other, smaller, network outages over the years that, while not cyberattack-related, caused frustrating down time. All of these together led an executive board to reach the unanimous conclusion that the county should move to cloud-hosted technology solutions. “Power in numbers really helped us,” Cabe said. “Six elected officials and two appointed officials all agreeing on one thing with reasons to back it up provided the support we needed to make it happen.”
As Cabe discussed the details of the jurisdiction’s move to the cloud, he noted one element that was crucial to the county’s success. “If you have multiple entities in an integrated system during a transition, select one office to drive the train.” In Rockdale County’s experience, this office was the clerk of the superior court, which spearheaded the effort but got all involved offices together regularly for updates and input.
One of the more immediate benefits of the move to the cloud was overall streamlining of efforts, especially in the budget area. Migrating to the cloud eliminated multiple contracts for multiple software products and combined them all into one SaaS agreement. It also reduced multiple invoices and payments down to just one office. “From a budget standpoint, it gave commissioners one fund to support, versus many,” Cabe noted.
In addition, the hosted environment took the onus of data maintenance and upkeep off of the county’s IT department. “All of our responsibilities went away as they related to maintaining servers, software and hardware upgrades, and security,” Cabe said.
Finally, the county received the enhanced data security and continuity of operations that first drove the migration. “It secures our data even more so than we could have done on-site,” Cabe explained. “We quickly realized our data was going to be in a much more secure environment, and that it was going to be routinely backed up. We also have the sense of security in knowing that if something major happens and we’re not on site, we still have the ability to access our software from any internet source.”