NY Steps Up Fight Against Hackers as Ransomware Attacks on Hospitals, Schools Rise - The Jewish Voice
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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

NY Steps Up Fight Against Hackers as Ransomware Attacks on Hospitals, Schools Rise

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By:  Dean Weiner

New York State is aware of the dangers of cyber-attacks and lawmakers are introducing legislation to ensure we are all safe.

The New York Post reports that our state politicians are seeking to protect hospitals, schools, and local governments from possible ransomware attacks.

“This is a top item on my agenda for 2023,” Steven Otis, chairman of the Assembly Science and Technology Committee told The New York Post.

“I am especially sensitive to local government and school districts being targets of ransomware attacks,” said Otis. “We have to get into prevent mode.”

“Ransomware attacks and cyber hackers are the existential threat of our times,” former state Sen. Diane Savino, who chaired the committee on Internet and technology and is now a senior adviser to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, said to The New York Post.

“In some cases you’re dealing with terrorist organizations. Hackers are aiding and abetting criminal enterprises. The federal government has done almost nothing.”

“We should be doing more to protect local governments and state government as well from ransomware attacks,” said Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn), the new head of the committee on veterans, homeland security and military affairs.

Even cultural institutions are at risk for hackers. Gretchen Berger of the West Side Rag writes that, “the Metropolitan Opera is still reeling from a cyberattack on its website that disrupted and caused its box-office ticketing to come to a screeching halt last week. The cyberattack also hit the Met’s computer system, call center, and website, which normally process more than $200,000 daily in ticket sales. According to various news reports, the motive or identity of the hackers hasn’t yet been identified, but the Met is working with cybersecurity experts. The FBI is also on the case.

Whether Russia is involved in the hack is unknown, but The New York Times observed the following:

“The Met has been outspoken in its support of Ukraine during the Russian invasion, organizing a concert this year to benefit relief efforts in the country and parting ways with Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano, after she failed to comply with the company’s demand that she distance herself from President Vladimir V. Putin.”

After the attack, the Met Opera (@MetOpera) tweeted:

Important Ticketing Update: While the cyberattack against the Met continues to impact our network, we are grateful to our friends @LincolnCenter, who have allowed us to offer tickets to select performances through their website.

“The Adams administration is taking bold, proactive steps to protect the City and its nearly 9 million residents from damaging cyberattacks to our critical infrastructure and essential services,” said a spokesperson for the city Office of Technology and Innovation to The New York Post.

“From establishing a Joint Security Operations Center to coordinate cybersecurity efforts across city, state, and federal entities, to launching an academy to train City employees to investigate cyber incidents in their agencies, the City has prioritized efforts to combat today’s complex — and increasingly costly — cyber threats.”

The agency also encourages New Yorkers to download Cyber Command’s NYC Secure app to protect their phone from cyber threats.

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