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Cybersecurity Coalfire staff arrested over courthouse burglary

By Alex Nimoy Dec. 5, 2019, 8 a.m.

When State court administration (SCA) asked a cybersecurity firm to conduct an assessment of the safety of electronic records kept in Dallas County, the discovery of men in the building in the middle of the night was not what court officials had in mind. Nevertheless, when law enforcement responded to an alarm on November 27th at 12.30am, two employees of the contracted company, Colorado-based Coalfire, were found in the Dallas County Courthouse equipped with burglary tools. The men were arrested, despite their protestations that they had been contracted to conduct a security test on SCA’s behalf, and the late-night walkabout around the building was part of the deal.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, the 29 and 43-year-old told law enforcement they were contracted to test the courthouse alarm system and the response time of the police, but Dallas County officials had not been informed of the experiment. SCA confirmed the men worked for the contracted cybersecurity company, which was asked to attempt unauthorized access to court records through various means to learn of any potential vulnerability. Both men have been charged with burglary in the third degree and the possession of burglary tools. They will appear on December 10th in front of a judge for a preliminary hearing. Court administrators have apologized to the Dallas County Board of Supervisors and police. In an updated statement, posted November 25th, SCA said the group has been made aware of a “similar” break-in at the Polk County Historic Courthouse, but did not have any other information to share at this time.

State court administration does not condone forcible entry into any building as a part of cyber-security or any other type of testing, SCA added. Coalfire has not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication. The company told SC magazine that over 10,000 security assessments have been conducted since 2001.

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