Suffolk County seal on the outside of the H. Lee...

Suffolk County seal on the outside of the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge. Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Suffolk County websites were down and some county offices were not able to connect to the internet for about three hours Friday as the county again experienced connectivity issues.

Suffolk spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle said routine updates to the system that were being made by the county's information technology department led to the issues. A cyberhack was not suspected.

All systems had been restored by 12:30 p.m., she said.

Friday’s outage, observed around 9:30 a.m., is the second in the past nine days. It followed a string of unrelated service disruptions and a cybersecurity breach to a third-party vendor used by the county.

Newsday reported in late November that a computer security application Suffolk installed last year to protect its systems after a September 2022 cyberattack was itself the subject of a data breach. Suffolk’s computer team notified administrators across its network that the breach to the computer security company Okta could result in attempts by hackers to gain access to systems protected by the measures.

Several days before, the county experienced internet outages as an animal chewed through an above-ground fiber optic cable, impacting the county's website and some county systems for about two hours, officials said. The previous day, the county sustained disruptions to its 911 emergency call system that were blamed on failed Verizon equipment. The 911 service was restored the following morning.

County Executive-elect Ed Romaine, a Republican who takes office in January, said he would ask a special legislative committee probing the September 2022 attack to investigate Friday's outage.

"Once again, the Suffolk County computer network has failed," Romaine said. "These continuing failures are an insult to our residents. Clearly there is a lot of work to be done to clean up the mess in the county’s IT department."

In response, Guilfoyle said: "Implementing the latest security update is not a choice that can wait, and a brief service interruption that happens as a result should not be cause for panic or an alarmist reaction."

Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, a Republican, said even brief outages can affect tasks like compiling payroll figures. Kennedy said his cash management team used a mobile hot spot during a two-hour outage on Nov. 29 to complete their operating run.

"If you miss 30 minutes, it puts you behind the 8-ball," he said. "If you miss half a day? We're in deep stuff."

As the county tries to fortify its defenses against another cyberhack, Bellone, a term-limited Democrat leaving at the end of the year, has filed legislation to unify cybersecurity policy enforcement. The Republican-controlled county legislature voted Tuesday to table the measure for a second time, citing concerns from other elected officials that the plan could jeopardize their departments' autonomy.

In a Nov. 27 letter to Suffolk’s chief information security officer Kenneth Brancik, Romaine requested information on the state of Suffolk’s cybersecurity preparedness. Romaine said he wants to make Suffolk the “most secure county in New York State" and said obtaining cybersecurity insurance is a top priority.

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