Court System Crash|Blamed on Fired Worker

     RED BLUFF, Calif. (CN) – Tehama County Superior Court was left scrambling to restore its computer and telephone systems days after firing its IT director, from whom it is seeking return of property and passwords, plus punitive damages for sabotage, according to a lawsuit.
     Alerted to suspicious activity on its infrastructure in early June, the court hired AT&T security and forensic experts to investigate, court officials said.
     AT&T repeatedly asked then IT Director Mark Montalvo to provide critical administrative passwords, but he gave inaccurate ones, and continues to withhold critical IT codes despite a temporary restraining order issued by the court, officials said.
     July 3, 2015, a week after Montalvo’s firing, someone logged into the Court Administrator account and deleted two hard drives, containing all the court’s infrastructure, according to the court’s statement.
     “This wholesale destruction of the court’s computer system was methodically done in less than a half-hour, by someone with the key passwords. This means it had to have been done by someone who not only had the passwords, but had extensive knowledge of the court’s IT system,” said Jeremy Stetser, with NWN Corporation, in a declaration filed with the court. NWN is one of the firms hired to help Tehama Superior, according to the declaration.
     The court’s phones, e-mail, website, case management system, and saved files were down from July 3 to July 16, and restoration efforts are still underway, according to Stetser’s declaration.
     “The court has already spent over one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) hiring professionals to try to restore its system, but does not yet know if that is possible,” Tehama Superior said in its civil lawsuit.
     A search warrant served on Montalvo’s home July 14 uncovered several pieces of the court’s computer equipment Stetser said.
     Montalvo continues to be in contempt of court orders requiring him to turn over the court’s intellectual and personal property, including hardware/software, backups, passwords and electronically stored information.
     Montalvo’s hearing on these orders is set for Aug. 6.
     Caryn Downing, Court Executive Officer, told Courthouse News that despite the disaster, the court continues to operate with all clerk offices and courtrooms conducting business.

%d bloggers like this: