New York announces statewide cybersecurity coordination center

New York City also pushed through an executive order mandating cyber command liaisons for every city agency.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

New York state governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a new centralized cybersecurity center after White House officials met with her on Friday to discuss their concerns about potential cyberattacks.  

Hochul announced the new statewide Joint Security Operations Center alongside mayors from New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers on Tuesday afternoon. 

The cybersecurity hub, located in Brooklyn and called the first of its kind in the nation, will serve as a centralized location for state officials to turn in times of cybercrisis.  

Officials said the Joint Security Operations Center will be comprised of experts from federal and state law enforcement entities, representatives from local and county governments, and NYC3. 

NYC3 was created in 2017 as a body coordinating New York City's cyber defenses across more than 100 agencies and offices.

The mayors said the command center will strengthen the state's threat detection capability "by centralizing telemetry data -- allowing officials to assess and monitor potential threats in real time." The center will also help officials "streamline threat intelligence and responses in the event of a significant cyberattack."

Hochul explained that she had been working throughout the weekend after federal officials held meetings warning of the potential for cyberattacks coming in response to sanctions against senior officials in the Russian government. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Jen Easterly said there are no specific or credible threats to the US but wrote that "Russia may consider taking retaliatory action in response to sanctions that may impact our critical infrastructure."

Easterly lauded the New York effort, writing that collaboration between local, state, federal, and private sector players is how they can successfully ensure the resilience of businesses and organizations.

"In light of current geopolitical uncertainty, earlier today I convened cabinet members from relevant areas to review our ongoing cybersecurity preparedness efforts and make sure that New Yorkers, our institutions, and our critical infrastructure are protected from cyber-facilitated disruptions. We are in regular touch with the White House and the US Department of Homeland Security to ensure coordination," Hochul said

"The reality is that because New York State is a leader in the finance, healthcare, energy, and transportation sectors, our state is an attractive target for cyber criminals and foreign adversaries. My Administration has taken significant steps to prepare for what have become increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, including my recent budget proposal to invest $62 million in our cybersecurity protections, which is more than double from last year. Cabinet leaders will continue reviewing their cyber-risk management readiness and communicate with relevant industry and government partners to ensure threat intelligence is being relayed as quickly as possible," Hochul added. 

At the event, local mayors spoke at length about the trouble they face in defending government offices against waves of sophisticated attacks.  

"There is no greater threat to the day-to-day operations of city and state government, then cybersecurity," Syracuse mayor Ben Walsh said. 

Albany's mayor spoke about their ordeal with a ransomware attack in 2019 while New York City mayor Eric Adams said his predecessor, former mayor Bill de Blasio, told him cybersecurity was one of the biggest crises the city was facing. 

New York City announced its own slate of measures designed to protect the city from cyberattacks. Adams released an executive order requiring each city agency to designate a cyber command liaison who will work with the Office of Cyber Command to share information, monitor threats, and adopt best practices around cybersecurity.

"Technology runs our water, controls our electricity, and notifies us during an emergency, so cyber attacks have the ability to bring our entire city to a halt if we are not prepared. Our city is a prime target for those who want to cause destruction, and while New York City Cyber Command is already a national model for impeding these threats, it's time our cybersecurity gets moved to the next level," Adams said. 

"The new Joint Security Operations Center will take an integrated and holistic approach to hardening our cyber defenses across the city and the state, building on the robust cyber infrastructure New York City has developed in recent years."

New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser said the creation of the Joint Security Operations Center was a transformational moment for cybersecurity in the state because it could make New York "the most cyber-resilient state in the nation."

State officials also noted that the Joint Security Operations Center will work with local educational institutions like CUNY to build out cyber curriculums and expand talent pipelines. 

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