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NY Gov. Kathy Hochul announces new statewide cybersecurity center

February 22, 2022- New York City (Brooklyn), NY - Governor Kathy Hochul announces formation of Joint Security Operations Center to Oversee Cybersecurity across the State (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)
Darren McGee- Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
February 22, 2022- New York City (Brooklyn), NY - Governor Kathy Hochul announces formation of Joint Security Operations Center to Oversee Cybersecurity across the State (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

Governor Kathy Hochul is creating a Joint Security Operations Center in Brooklyn to oversee cybersecurity in New York.

The Democrat said Tuesday the facility in Brooklyn will be a nerve center for data collection, response efforts and information sharing between local, state and federal officials.

Hochul is proposing a $30 million "shared services" program to help local governments and other regional partners acquire and deploy cybersecurity services. She said states and major cities must work together to increase security.

“We can no longer act independently. And that has been the case where the State of New York has its plan," the governor said. "City of New York has a plan. Our mayors, our local governments throughout the State of New York. And that is not sustainable in light of the threats that we're seeing. And we can't expect cities and counties to go it alone.”

The center is a partnership between the state and the mayors of New York City, Yonkers, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Albany. State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray says right now, local response to attacks varies.

“What's happening now is that if any entity that is attacked is responding. New York City has an incredibly robust and mature response and then the response (of) our localities and our counties and our authorities run the gamut from that incredibly mature, robust response to one that needs some help," Bray said.

Hochul says the effort follows a phone call between President Biden and governors from across the country, in which he warned of an increased threat given tension over Russia and Ukraine.

“The White House thought it was important enough to let governors know to be prepared. The criminals, the terrorists - they don't telegraph. What they're going to do because they want the element of surprise," Hochul said. "But, we're on notice now. We're on notice of what they could do to dismantle our systems, our communication systems, our 9-1-1 systems, our transportation network. I mean, they all run on technology and you disrupt that technology, that connectivity, there is an opportunity for rather cataclysmic consequences.”

Joining the governor for the announcement, Democratic Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan recalled when city government was the victim of a cyberattack.

“The City of Albany in 2019 was also attacked and that ransomware attack, again, we were able to protect our systems and to be able to rebuild and come out of that very strongly. But, it is an incredible challenge, because these attacks happen every single day," she said. "I get a report from our (chief information officer) and that report shows me how many times a day - and it's dozens and sometimes hundreds of times a day - that we are attacked or people trying to find vulnerabilities in our systems. And we as cities just can't do this ourselves. Municipalities don't have the bandwidth.”

In addition to the new facility, New York will increase the number of cybersecurity professionals in the state’s workforce and is looking to hire 70 more employees.

Hochul says she’s looking to replicate the College of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security at the University of Albany around the state as demand for cybersecurity professionals increases. She added it is the responsibility of the state to expect and prepare for future attacks.

“The situation is becoming more volatile. The U.S. is, in the last hours, instituted sanctions. Sometimes for every action, there's a reaction. Shame on us if we're not anticipating and watching what's happening across the globe and the possible impact - in any city, of course - New York City, New York State.”