New York has reportedly opened an operational center to protect against cybersecurity threats, the first-of-its-kind effort among U.S. cities.
The center in lower Manhattan is staffed by a coalition of 282 partners from government agencies and private businesses — ranging from the New York Police Department to Amazon, IBM, Federal Reserve Bank, and New York healthcare systems, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Until last week, the two-year effort known as New York City Cyber Critical Services and Infrastructure was completely virtual. The center’s opening comes amid increasing cyber attacks against government and business infrastructure.
"If any city in America needs this cross-sector and government collaboration, it’s us," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., one of the founding members of the project, told the Journal.
News of the new center comes in the wake of a ransomware attack that affected as many as 1,500 businesses worldwide, exploiting a powerful remote-management tool run by Miami-based software company Kaseya.
Vance told the Journal talks about the operational center initiative began in 2017, when local leaders in the law enforcement, intelligence and security communities took stock of how New York City would respond if a terrorist attacked its water supply — and finding no group was organized to be mobilized immediately.
The New York City Cyber Critical Services and Infrastructure project was launched two years later, the Journal reported — and in November 2020, project members deployed public and private volunteers to Brooklyn Hospital to respond to a ransomware attack.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller told the Journal such ransomware attacks have become prevalent around the country, with one happening every 14 seconds — adding 40% of companies pay the ransom and 80% end up getting hit again.
"When one major piece of critical infrastructure is under attack, they’re all under attack," he told the Journal. "If those entities fail, all our response plans fail with them."
Since its launch, the New York initiative started sharing information as soon as there is a cyber event anywhere in the country and makes preparations in case an attack breaches the region, the Journal reported.
The collective has also held several "war games" at the IBM cyber range where participants use their own systems to practice fending off real attacks, the news outlet reported.
"You want to mitigate the surprise," Geoff Brown, New York City’s chief information security officer and head of its cyber command, told the Journal.
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