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Gov. Hochul announces new cybersecurity strategy

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks with reporters at the capitol in Albany March 25, 2022.
Karen DeWitt
Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks with reporters at the capitol in Albany March 25, 2022.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new strategy to bolster the state’s cybersecurity Wednesday.

According to Hochul, $600 million is going into readying the state to deal with cybersecurity threats to state and local governments and the private sector, as well as individuals.

She says the state’s strategy includes three prongs — unification, resilience and preparedness — and will be overseen by Colin Ahern, named last year as the state’s first Chief Cyber Officer.

Hochul outlined the strategy during an appearance in Brooklyn.

“Unification means very simple, relining whole of state government against this problem. I have a lot of agencies, a lot of points of entry, a lot of vulnerabilities, we're boosting our cybersecurity information, tools, and information services across the state,” she said. “And it's going to be sophisticated. It’s sophisticated, it’s not just being attacked to then try and how to figure out cleaning up, I am always whether it's crime on the streets, crime on or subways, I'd rather be preventing crimes than solving crimes. The same goes with cybersecurity.”

Hochul says as in previous eras, New York is at the center of many potential threats.

“The FBI estimated that more than 25,000 New Yorkers not across the country, but New Yorkers fell victim to cybercrimes last year alone. And we are a prime target. This is New York, a prime target for those who want to harm us, disrupt our way of life, not something new to us. During 9/11, our city was attacked because they thought they could have the broadest impact on our national and global economy by hitting the epicenter of the financial world,” she said. “They hit Wall Street to disrupt our institutions and everything we stand for. The cyberattacks represent the same danger today.”

Among the speakers hailing the plan was Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.

“The New York strategy really maintains genuine leadership, both for protecting the people of New York, and also inspires the protection of people across the whole country. This is a big deal,” he said. “It includes a vision that I share with the governor that we're talking unity across all levels of government, across public and private sectors. And for that matter, we're talking about a whole of nation defense, kind of like World War II, we were all expected to play a part. And that's back.”

Cybersecurity and preventing against ransomware are also on the mind of the federal government. The White House held its first summit on the issue hosted by First Lady Jill Biden on Tuesday, with many experts warning that limited funding is in place to defend against data breaches and targeted attacks.

Biden administration cybersecurity point person Jake Braun says bolstering cybersecurity is vital to national security but also a path to new tech careers.

“There's billions in these bills for cybersecurity investments as we're rebuilding our infrastructure so that this go-around, we can bake cybersecurity into the infrastructure and the economy as we rebuild this economy from the ground up,” he said.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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