Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. said his office...

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. said his office was rushing to cut hardcopy checks for county vendors after a malware attack on computer systems. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Suffolk County officials on Thursday were working to send out paper checks to pay county vendors — with nonprofits contracted to perform social services a high priority — following the shutdown of county systems after a malware attack, county Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. told Newsday.

“We will address most immediate and critical needs by writing hard-cut checks,” Kennedy said.

“Collectively, they [nonprofits] employ hundreds, if not thousands of people who are integral to the delivery of the range of services that we provide and pay for,” he said.

Kennedy said Wednesday that Suffolk’s financial management system was affected “significantly” by the malware attack discovered Sept. 8.

But no county funds have been lost, Kennedy said.

“About the only good thing that I can tell you right now is that not a single penny of county money was accessed or stolen,” he said.

Kennedy noted the county’s payroll data is stored in a cloud-based system that was not impacted by the cyberattack.

Kennedy said his staff was working with the county's primary bank to obtain paper checks to send to vendors on Friday.

County departments will process paper invoices and work with Kennedy’s office to speed the most critical payments, Marykate Guilfoyle, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, told Newsday.

All county vendors will be paid, she said, though she did not say when.

Suffolk County is scanning its electronic devices for evidence of cyber intrusions as part of its investigation.

The county also has made scanning assistance available to the offices of all countywide elected officials, including the district attorney, comptroller, clerk and sheriff, Guilfoyle said.

Kennedy, a former Republican Suffolk County legislator, called the malware attack one the most serious issues he has encountered in his career.

“As far as the magnitude of the impact, I know [of] nothing that has affected county government to this degree,” he said.

Suffolk County websites and web-based applications were taken down after discovery of what turned out to be malware in county systems.

County officials said Tuesday the attack had the "hallmarks" of ransomware, although they had not received demands for money for any breached data.

Officials have provided neither a time frame for restoring systems nor details about the source or motive for the cyber hack.

Suffolk contracts with a variety of nonprofits to provide social services such as homeless housing, crime victim counseling and assistance in applying for government benefits.

Also, Suffolk as a “pass through entity” disperses money on behalf of the state and federal governments, Kennedy said.

Nonprofit operators told Newsday their agencies were in a uniquely difficult spot because of the county computer shutdown.

Jeffrey Reynolds, CEO of Family and Children’s Association in Garden City, which provides addiction treatment and other services, called the prospect of delays in payment to charitable organizations “frightening.”

He said his organization, which receives most of its funding from Nassau County, along with some money from Suffolk, did not anticipate any immediate issues.

Nonetheless, “most nonprofits, even larger ones like ours, live a lot like our clients — paycheck to paycheck.” Reynolds told Newsday on Wednesday.

“We're a 138-year-old organization with a $24 million budget, and I still check regularly to ensure that we've got enough cash in the bank to meet a $550,000 payroll, that happens biweekly,” he said.

The Crime Victims Center, of Ronkonkoma, has state and Suffolk County contracts to provide services for crime victims such as counseling for sex assault victims.

Executive director Laura Ahearn said the organization hasn’t received any electronic referrals providing names of crime victims and ways to reach them since the county computer system went down.

The agency has begun receiving some referrals by telephone, Ahearn told Newsday, and police precinct representatives were expected to begin hand-delivering referrals on Thursday.

Ahearn said that while the Crime Victims Center has a line of credit and does not anticipate financial hardship from the county shutdown, nonprofits must be "strategic" and "put themselves in positions where, at any moment in time, something could go wrong.”

She continued: “You are at the mercy of government budgets.”

Rebecca Sanin, CEO and president of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, an umbrella group for nonprofits, said applications for the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and temporary cash assistance have been delayed during the Suffolk shutdown.

The group, which represents residents who are applying for aid, has been directing Suffolk clients to local food pantries, Sanin told Newsday.

“We’ve become reliant on technology as a society — and technology offers wonderful efficiencies and access for many — but also has vulnerabilities and challenges that we need to prepare for as a form of disaster preparedness,” Sanin said. 

Guilfoyle said the county began partnering with the state Thursday to handle the aid applications, which are normally processed on average within 20 days.

Suffolk County officials on Thursday were working to send out paper checks to pay county vendors — with nonprofits contracted to perform social services a high priority — following the shutdown of county systems after a malware attack, county Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. told Newsday.

“We will address most immediate and critical needs by writing hard-cut checks,” Kennedy said.

“Collectively, they [nonprofits] employ hundreds, if not thousands of people who are integral to the delivery of the range of services that we provide and pay for,” he said.

Kennedy said Wednesday that Suffolk’s financial management system was affected “significantly” by the malware attack discovered Sept. 8.

But no county funds have been lost, Kennedy said.

“About the only good thing that I can tell you right now is that not a single penny of county money was accessed or stolen,” he said.

Kennedy noted the county’s payroll data is stored in a cloud-based system that was not impacted by the cyberattack.

Kennedy said his staff was working with the county's primary bank to obtain paper checks to send to vendors on Friday.

County departments will process paper invoices and work with Kennedy’s office to speed the most critical payments, Marykate Guilfoyle, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, told Newsday.

All county vendors will be paid, she said, though she did not say when.

Suffolk County is scanning its electronic devices for evidence of cyber intrusions as part of its investigation.

The county also has made scanning assistance available to the offices of all countywide elected officials, including the district attorney, comptroller, clerk and sheriff, Guilfoyle said.

Kennedy, a former Republican Suffolk County legislator, called the malware attack one the most serious issues he has encountered in his career.

“As far as the magnitude of the impact, I know [of] nothing that has affected county government to this degree,” he said.

Suffolk County websites and web-based applications were taken down after discovery of what turned out to be malware in county systems.

County officials said Tuesday the attack had the "hallmarks" of ransomware, although they had not received demands for money for any breached data.

Officials have provided neither a time frame for restoring systems nor details about the source or motive for the cyber hack.

Suffolk contracts with a variety of nonprofits to provide social services such as homeless housing, crime victim counseling and assistance in applying for government benefits.

Also, Suffolk as a “pass through entity” disperses money on behalf of the state and federal governments, Kennedy said.

Nonprofit operators told Newsday their agencies were in a uniquely difficult spot because of the county computer shutdown.

Jeffrey Reynolds, CEO of Family and Children’s Association in Garden City, which provides addiction treatment and other services, called the prospect of delays in payment to charitable organizations “frightening.”

He said his organization, which receives most of its funding from Nassau County, along with some money from Suffolk, did not anticipate any immediate issues.

Nonetheless, “most nonprofits, even larger ones like ours, live a lot like our clients — paycheck to paycheck.” Reynolds told Newsday on Wednesday.

“We're a 138-year-old organization with a $24 million budget, and I still check regularly to ensure that we've got enough cash in the bank to meet a $550,000 payroll, that happens biweekly,” he said.

The Crime Victims Center, of Ronkonkoma, has state and Suffolk County contracts to provide services for crime victims such as counseling for sex assault victims.

Executive director Laura Ahearn said the organization hasn’t received any electronic referrals providing names of crime victims and ways to reach them since the county computer system went down.

The agency has begun receiving some referrals by telephone, Ahearn told Newsday, and police precinct representatives were expected to begin hand-delivering referrals on Thursday.

Ahearn said that while the Crime Victims Center has a line of credit and does not anticipate financial hardship from the county shutdown, nonprofits must be "strategic" and "put themselves in positions where, at any moment in time, something could go wrong.”

She continued: “You are at the mercy of government budgets.”

Rebecca Sanin, CEO and president of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, an umbrella group for nonprofits, said applications for the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and temporary cash assistance have been delayed during the Suffolk shutdown.

The group, which represents residents who are applying for aid, has been directing Suffolk clients to local food pantries, Sanin told Newsday.

“We’ve become reliant on technology as a society — and technology offers wonderful efficiencies and access for many — but also has vulnerabilities and challenges that we need to prepare for as a form of disaster preparedness,” Sanin said. 

Guilfoyle said the county began partnering with the state Thursday to handle the aid applications, which are normally processed on average within 20 days.

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