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$30M Shared Services Program to Defend New York Counties

The program, announced last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul, would provide county governments and select cities with endpoint detection and response tools to continuously monitor systems and protect against cyber attacks.

Endpoint security concept, multiple devices being secured.
To help safeguard New York counties from cyber threats, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a new $30 million shared services program last week to provide county governments with tools to protect against cyber and ransomware attacks.

The initiative would work alongside the state’s recently announced Joint Security Operations Center (JSOC), which houses cybersecurity assets from multiple levels of government partners.

The program would offer all 62 of New York’s counties and JSOC partners, including the cities of Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Yonkers, with CrowdStrike endpoint detection and response (EDR) services for free.

Endpoint detection and response technology is used to protect computers, servers and other devices by monitoring cyber threats in real time. For example, the technology could detect a workstation computer or laptop that has been compromised by ransomware and isolate it, allowing the cybersecurity teams to track and address any issues.

“I think ransomware is important to call out specifically because it’s an area of significant concern for the administration,” Chief Cyber Officer Colin Ahern told Government Technology.

From January 2020 through May 2021, companies regulated by the state’s Department of Financial Services reported 74 ransomware attacks.

According to the department’s website, these attacks ranged in impact, from dayslong shutdowns to minor disruptions and the temporary loss of a few computers. In addition, 17 companies paid a ransom.

Ahern said that data obtained from the shared service program would be centralized in the joint security operations center.

“The important thing about that initiative is that it is a nerve center that offers a set of capabilities that can make the state more secure by centralizing the security telemetry from the computers where the service is installed,” Ahern explained.

It would also allow the state’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and computer emergency response team to respond more quickly and effectively to threats against these systems, he added.

Since the announcement, the state has reached out to various counties to provide them with more information about the new service.

“In the past couple of days since the announcement, we’ve connected with the counties in New York state and provided them the appropriate agreements and ways to collect information that we need to kick off the process,” Ahern said. “The next step is communicating directly with stakeholders for a significant period of time in order to make this a relative success.”

Also, he added that people are now signing up and communicating with the team in place to walk them through the process.
Katya Diaz is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.