Friday, March 1 2024

Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) recently introduced New York’s first cybersecurity strategy. The 15-page document lays out a blueprint to expand services to aid under-resourced entities and clarifies agency responsibilities. It provides $500 million to strengthen New York’s healthcare information technology and $7.4 million to expand the New York State Police’s Cyber Analysis Unit, Computer Crimes Unit, and Internet Crimes Against Children Center. Detailing an integrated approach to decrease cybersecurity risks, the new plan also contains a framework to unify state government efforts, prioritize cybersecurity education, and boost workforce development.

Governor Hochul described the national implications of the new strategy. “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. They hit Wall Street to disrupt our institutions and everything we stand for. The cyberattacks represent the same danger today,” she said.

The strategy called attention to a number of cyber threats facing New Yorkers, referencing a 2022 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report which estimated over 25,000 residents were victims of cybercrimes in that year. On the global front, the strategy highlighted Russian and Chinese threats to the U.S. and New York. Indeed, Chinese-linked advanced persistent threat activity targeted Microsoft email accounts in mid-June. That incident, which affected 25 organizations, was the subject of a joint advisory from the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in July.

As for Russia, the cl0p ransomware attack rocked the United States, affecting several financial services organizations and federal agencies. The U.S. charged a Russian for an unrelated ransomware attack in May. Commenting on this to the Washington Post, former U.S. Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin spoke of the role international collaboration may play. “The biggest challenge for imprisoning a ransomware criminal remains the havens that nations like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran may offer them,” the article said.

The strategy is composed of five pillars. The state will collaborate with key actors, such as county and city government officials, to offer cybersecurity services like endpoint detection and responses. It will also double-down on efforts to adequately communicate with residents during cyberattacks and encourage them to practice cyber hygiene. Governments systems and networks must be fortified, as well.

Vital regulations were another theme. According to the strategy, new regulations will be informed by action from the federal government. The state will continue adding amendments to the New York State Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) cybersecurity regulations on banks, insurance companies, and similar institutions. It will partner with the U.S. Department of Energy to implement a December 2022 law focused on protecting the energy grid from cybersecurity threats.

The final pillar addressed the state’s cybersecurity workforce and economy. To close the talent gap, the state will invest in the State University of New York and local school districts to boost technology research and expand course offerings. It will continue using fellowship programs to provide technology-related jobs to underrepresented groups, streamline the civil service system with the FY2024 budget, open more office locations for state workers, and permit telecommuting when possible.

The move from Hochul takes a cue from the Biden administration’s recent cybersecurity initiatives. In March, the White House published the National Cybersecurity Strategy, which outlined goals for long-term investments and a collective vision of cybersecurity, with the best-positioned organizations being most responsible. An implementation plan containing 65 federal agency directives was released in July.

Governor Hochul praised the Biden administration’s efforts, saying, “They’ve done more to shore up cybersecurity and build cyber resilience than any presidential administration in history, and I’m proud to say I’m following that model.”

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