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How a Cyberattack Plunged a Long Island County Into the 1990s | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


Adding to its vulnerability, Suffolk, like many counties, was running on so-called legacy systems, outdated platforms that many municipalities do not know how to or cannot afford to modernize, said Benjamin Voce-Gardner, the director of the Office of Counter Terrorism for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, which has been assisting with the response.

After the attack, Mr. Bellone increased the county’s 2023 operating budget by $9 million to fund cybersecurity measures. And last month, Kevin J. McCaffrey, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, announced the creation of a committee with subpoena power to investigate the causes of the hack.

“They’ve tried to characterize this as just yet another kind of catastrophe they’ve had to confront, not unlike Hurricane Sandy or even Covid,” said Mr. McCaffrey. “Hurricane Sandy and Covid were acts of nature. This is a failure to go ahead and be proactive.”

Indeed, some county officials had voiced concerns over the state of the county’s security well before the attack and said they had been rebuffed. In June, Judith A. Pascale, the outgoing county clerk, requested a separate firewall for her office, concerned her office’s data was vulnerable.

Emails between Ms. Pascale and Scott Mastellon, the county’s information technology commissioner, appear to show the specific request was rejected. The emails were first reported by Newsday and obtained by The New York Times. (The county disputed the characterization and said that it offered an equivalent technology but the clerk’s office did not use it.)

“I am not the boy that’s cried wolf,” said Ms. Pascale. “People, this is a global problem.”

Others defended the county’s response to the current crisis: “This is an attack by an adversary who wants to sow distrust and chaos to leverage that to steal taxpayer dollars,” said Michael A.L. Balboni, president and managing director of RedLand Strategies, which led a training exercise in 2019 for county leaders. In the wake of the hack, Mr. Balboni’s firm was rehired to provide guidance.

“At the local government level you don’t have the resources or ability to respond to what amounts to nation-state style attack — and its unrealistic to expect them to,” Mr. Balboni said.

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