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Information Systems and Cybersecurity - Annual Report 2016

The Judiciary is committed to maintaining secure, robust, and flexible technology systems that meet the changing needs of judges, court staff, and the public.

Strengthening IT Security

The Judiciary is aware of the ever-growing risk of cyberattack and has taken steps in recent years to counter a range of threats posed by hackers, computer viruses, and other malicious acts. Efforts to adopt even more robust security measures to protect the Judiciary’s data and information technology assets continued in 2016.

New Collaboration Tools

The Judiciary is in the planning and engineering phase of a multi-year effort to migrate to the Microsoft platform of office tools, including Exchange as the email server tool, SharePoint as the collaboration tool, and Skype for Business as the instant messaging and unified communications tool.

Before investing in a Judiciary-managed, on-site cloud solution, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) assessed the maturity level of commercial cloud service offerings for government use.  It found significant improvements in the security and functionality of such offerings since the initial decision in 2014 to pursue a Judiciary-managed system. In 2016, the Judicial Conference Committee on Information Technology endorsed adoption of a cloud infrastructure for the Judiciary’s email and collaboration tools.

Enterprise Hosting and Cloud Computing

The AO has been steadily expanding its enterprise hosting service to improve manageability for its court customers, enhance security, and make more efficient use of hosting resources.  This service provides hosting for local court systems and locally configured and managed virtual desktops on a secure shared infrastructure at the Judiciary’s national data centers. As of December 2016, nearly 6,000 servers were being hosted at one of the two centers. In addition, 123 courts have signed up for the new cloud and view services, which are complementary services that enable court units to host their applications in a virtual server environment while retaining much of the autonomy of local physical servers and with far less of the operational burden.

Rollout of National Phone System

As of November 2016, 75 percent of court locations were using a Judiciary-wide, internet-based telephone service, with more signed up to receive it in the coming months.  More than 48,000 devices are online, supporting more than 3 million inbound and outbound calls per month.  Launched in 2011, this service provides a cost-effective, technically superior unified communications solution for courts whose telecommunications systems had become outmoded. The service eliminates the difficulty of replacing conventional telephone systems periodically and the need for expensive equipment and labor costs to expand systems. It is expected that by the end of 2018, 98 percent of courts will be using the service.