A portion of The Lee County Clerk of Court’s web site was effectively shut down for several days due to an invasion of “bots” that overwhelmed the site’s servers.

Lee County Clerk of Courts Linda Doggett said no information was compromised during the weekend attack and that the problem was eventually thwarted.

A web robot or simply a bot is a software application that runs automated tasks over the Internet. Bots are often used in malicious attempts to glean data from web sites.

The part of the clerk of courts web site compromised was the court records public search section where information on court cases past or present can be accessed by anyone.

Those trying to use that section would get a system error message from Friday through Monday. By Tuesday a permanent fix was working.

Doggett said that the bots got what is called a screen swipe. “Nothing important was taken,” she said, with only non-confidential information on a public access screen affected.

Doggett said that her office was unsure of the intent of the bot attack or who or from where the attack originated.

“We can’t identify the source,” she said. “It created a situation where the servers were overwhelmed and slow.”

She said the web site was taken down and several programs applied to stop the attack. The effort worked for a bit, she said, but the bots eventually took over and again affected the servers.

Eventually, Doggett said, a program known as Captcha was installed and the problem stopped. Captcha requires a human to physically enter a specific phrase or numeric sequence to allow the web site to be accessed.

Doggett said the clerk’s web site gets “thousands” of these kinds of attack attempts daily.

“We block them,” she said. “We weren’t able to block them this time. But it has been fixed for now. Until they find some other way to get in.”

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