Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has created a cyber-incident response team to help protect public colleges, local governments and school districts against cyber-attacks and to better respond to computer invasions.
The order comes as Cuomo proposes several additional measures aimed at strengthening state and local governments against cyber-attacks, malware and ransomware. The proposals include updated and stiffer criminal penalties for cyber-attacks, computer tampering and identity theft.
“Cyber-attacks against New Yorkers and our government institutions are an ever-increasing threat to the safety and security of our communities, as well as the privacy and financial well-being of our citizens,” Cuomo said. “This proposal will give police and prosecutors the authority and the tools they need to bring cyberthieves to justice and protect New Yorkers.”
The cyber-incident response team is a multiagency strike force being created under the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. It will provide much of the protection and response that is now provided to state government to the State University of New York, local governments and schools.
Some of the proposals would be the most strict cybersecurity measures in the nation, said Michael Balboni, founder of RedLand Strategies, which advises governments on cybersecurity, and a former state anti-terrorism chief and state senator.
“If there’s a breach, and if you don’t really understand that it is and respond quickly, you could suffer even more loss and damage to the system,” he said in an interview. “Making a rapid-response team makes absolute sense. But, of course, it depends on what resources the state can provide for it.”
The increased penalties would include prison time for identify theft. “More and more, older New Yorkers are the victims of identity theft,” said Ann Marie Cook, president/CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester and co-chair of the New York State Coalition on Elder Abuse.
“The theft destroys lives and threatens the financial security and stability of older adults,” she said.
Cuomo is scheduled to begin a statewide tour to six locations to present his State of the State speech to outline his agenda for the legislative session. He will be in Manhattan and Buffalo on Monday and Farmingdale on Tuesday and will end the tour Wednesday in Syracuse.