Cyberattack impacting New York State budget process

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The State of New York is investigating to find out who launched a cyberattack into the state budget process, slowing it down.

Earlier this week, Governor Kathy Hochul announced an agreement on the state budget, but it still has not been voted on and is 17 days late. And now, the state has been hit with this cyberattack, which is affecting the speed of the budget process.

The cyberattack was targeted against the state’s Legislative Bill Drafting Commission, which helps lawmakers in the bill-drafting process. A spokesperson for Hochul said she was briefed about the attack Wednesday morning.

“We have to go back to the more antiquated system we had in place from 1994, this happened very, very early in the morning and so we’ve been on top of this,” Hochul said in an interview with WNYC.

The Governor’s Office says they’ve deployed state cybersecurity officials to investigate.

“No one will do it better than we do in trying to get to the bottom of this attack, but our understanding is now it’ll take little bit longer to deal with the legislative side of it because a lot of data is included in the computers,” Hochul said.

Despite the security breach, several budget bills have been printed and are ready for the legislature to debate and vote on. To security experts, the hack is more proof of cyber attacks getting more sophisticated.

“The first thing you need to do is collect all the evidence, so they need to collect the logs and do some significant analysis to even figure out how it happened and once they figure out how it happened there has to be some mitigating strategies put in place to close the gap so to speak,” Hochul said.

Holly Hubert, the founder of Global Security IQ is a former FBI special agent. She explains what the state needs to do next.

“The state needs to do a very comprehensive risk assessment using a standard practice tool that assess literally from A-Z every point of cybersecurity risk,” Hubert said, “It’s a lengthy and very rigorous process the very first thing that they do is collect all the logs for whatever servers, whatever web servers, any email servers, firewall servers, any kind of logging that’s part of the computing infrastructure should be collected and analyzed.”

Governor Hochul says she does not know if this was a politically-motivated attack. If the person responsible for the attack is caught, they could face felony charges.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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