ALBANY – Improvements to cybersecurity defense are underway in New York State.
On Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul formed a joint security operation center to oversee cybersecurity. The Governor admitted that the state’s institutions, government, and infrastructure are all vulnerable, and preventative measures need to be taken to assure the safety of the state.
“And I know this because I served as a member of the Homeland Security committee as a member of Congress, I served as a member of the Armed Services committee, and I was very much aware of the cyber threats that surrounded us even a decade ago and even more so now, we truly live in a digital world,” explains Hochul. “You think about all your transactions. You know, how you access money, how you pay your bills, how you make purchases and medical records. Even our power grids, NYPA, our transportation systems, the MTA, they’re all vulnerable to cyber-attacks if we don’t take precautionary measures.”
Given tensions mounting worldwide, most prominently between Russia and Ukraine, the Governor believes it is best if the state has an independent plan and resources to protect themselves in case of an attack.
“And in light of what’s been going on, I’ve been in regular contact with the White House. We’ve had calls. I’ve been speaking directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary Mayorkas, over the weekend,” says Hochul. “I thought it was serious enough that I convened members of my cabinet on Sunday, asking all of them to come together and tell me what steps they’ve been taking and where there may be any shortcomings in our statewide operations, as well as our critical infrastructure.”
To thwart attacks, the Governor announced the first in the nation Statewide Joint Security Operations Center (JSOC) which will allow experts to combine resources and share data.
The operation, according to the Governor, will be a $62 million investment. Currently, cyber attacks cost the nation $5 to $10 billion annually, with 85 serious attacks just last year.
Hochul explained that local governments could not afford a cybersecurity operation of this magnitude, and promised to make the resources and knowledge available to these localities.
“And that’s why I’m putting together a plan for $30 million to help our localities buy this, at a subsidized price, and get the technological know-how that they need to defend themselves,” assures Hochul.
The state is looking to hire 70 experts for the operation, who will secure the state and protect the citizens within it.
The Governor encourages all New Yorkers to increase their own cybersecurity by creating strong, unique passwords as well as staying vigilant in what messages and links you choose to open.