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New York preps for cyber attacks amid Russia-Ukraine crisis

Governor Kathy Hochul announcing Joint Security Operations Center in Brooklyn with members of her administration.
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul announcing creation of a Joint Security Operations Center in Brooklyn, to coordinate cybersecurity efforts across the state.

New York is launching a new cybersecurity operations center aimed at connecting the state’s resources with mayors and local officials to respond to future digital threats amid an increasingly unstable international dynamic.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday that, given the tension between Russia and the United States over Ukraine, cybersecurity would be a top priority for the state moving forward.

“Sometimes for every action, there’s a reaction,” Hochul said. “Shame on us if we’re not anticipating and watching what’s happening across the globe, and the possible impact in any city.”

The Joint Security Operations Center, or JSOC, was already planned before the Russia-Ukraine conflict began to escalate, but Hochul said it would be crucial in the weeks ahead.

The JSOC will provide a statewide view of potential cybersecurity threats and how they can either be addressed or prevented altogether. It’s the first time New York has created a dedicated command center to monitor and respond to potential cyber attacks.

Hochul said her administration has been in contact with the White House in recent weeks, while the Biden administration warned of a potential invasion of Ukraine from Russia, and that her office was told to prepare for new digital vulnerabilities.

“The White House thought it was important enough to let governors know to be prepared,” Hochul said. “We’re on notice of what they could do to dismantle our systems.”

While the JSOC will help the state address potential cyber attacks, it will also act as a resource for municipalities that don’t have the infrastructure to address digital threats, Hochul said.

Some of New York’s cities have already experienced their own cybersecurity threats in recent years. Last year, the city of Yonkers in Westchester County, was victim to a ransomware attack. Three years ago, the same thing happened in the city of Albany.

The partnership for the new cybersecurity center also includes mayors of upstate cities, such as Rochester. Mayor Malik Evans said that, “any attacks on our technical infrastructure systems is actually an attack on the citizens we serve,” so he welcomed this boost in the state’s efforts against cyber attacks.

Hochul is asking the state Legislature for $61.9 million in this year’s state budget to boost cyber security. A final spending plan is due at the end of March.

Dan Clark is managing editor of New York NOW.