New York cyber lead warns of what states face in critical infrastructure defense


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Critical infrastructure providers are exposed to more frequent and sophisticated cyber threats as more nation-state adversaries work with criminal hackers to target the US, says Colin Ahern, New York State’s chief cyber officer. Governments must work together at all levels to combat these threats, with federal, state and local governments working with each other and in partnership with the private sector, which controls much of the critical infrastructure in need of protection, Ahern says. “The state obviously also manages critical infrastructure, but as you know most of the critical infrastructure in the state is privately owned, which requires cooperation not only within the public sector, but across the private sector,” Ahern said.

Dive Insight:

Ahern delivered the keynote address to a gathering of top law enforcement and cybersecurity officials at the New York Summit last week at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan. Read also : AI in Cybersecurity at RSA Conference 2023 | Spiceworks – Spiceworks News and Insights.

New York State has been at the forefront of the fight against cybercrime. The country faces significant threats to both public and private sector organizations, due to its role as a global media and financial center. It also serves as a major entry point for international trade and passenger travel.

Just before the invasion of Ukraine, New York State unveiled the Joint Security Operations Center, which was designed to coordinate cyber surveillance and response with major critical infrastructure providers and local governments across the state.

Ahern was named the nation’s first chief cyber officer in June 2022, and as part of his role he heads the Brooklyn-based JSOC operation.

The speech comes as local and state governments and local providers of critical infrastructure face more sophisticated cyber attacks.

Federal officials in September 2022 awarded about $1 billion through the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program, which will be spread over four years to help states, municipalities and US territories fight cyber threats.

Already this year, state and local governments have experienced major cyber attacks. In May, the city of Dallas suffered a massive Royal ransomware attack that shut down municipal court hearings and took down the local police department’s website. A royal ransomware group has threatened to leak data it claims it stole from the city.

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