Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the creation of a Joint Security Operations Center in Brooklyn that will serve as the nerve center for joint local, state and federal cyber efforts, including data collection, response efforts and information sharing. A partnership launched with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, and cyber leaders across the state, the JSOC is the nation’s first-of-its-kind cyber command center that will provide a statewide view of the cyber-threat landscape and improve coordination on threat intelligence and incident response.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Please be seated. Good afternoon, everyone. It is great to be together once again with the dream team of my partners in government. First of all, we have our great Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, who’s joining us, you’ll be hearing from him. Mayor Spano from Yonkers has made the trip down, but not as far as our Mayor from Albany who journeyed down, Kathy Sheehan, also Ben Walsh, our Mayor from Syracuse will be joining us remotely. And we’ve also been in contact with the Mayor of Rochester and our mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown, who has a family matter to deal with, but otherwise he is on board with us.
And the reason we’re here today, since I’ve been Governor, literally six months this week, my number one priority has been protecting New Yorkers.
First of all, our priority has been protecting their health and you’ve seen how we’ve unveiled a very thoughtful strategy to deal with COVID, the health of our individuals. Also protecting the health of our economy, making sure that we do smart initiatives, masking, vaccinations, ultimately keeping our economy going, but also want to protect the health of our institutions, and our governments, and our critical infrastructure, and they’re vulnerable right now.
And I know this because I served as a member of the Homeland Security committee as a member of Congress, I served as a member of the Armed Services committee, and I was very much aware of the cyber threats that surrounded us even a decade ago and even more so now, we truly live in a digital world. You think about all your transactions. You know, how you access money, how you pay your bills, how you make purchases and medical records. Even our power grids, NYPA, our transportation systems, the MTA, they’re all vulnerable to cyber-attacks if we don’t take precautionary measures.
Given the increasingly volatile geopolitical circumstances with Russia and Ukraine. And we just heard from President Biden moments ago on the advancing troops from Russia, we can no longer act independently. And that has been the case where the state of New York has its plan. City of New York has a plan. Our mayors, our local governments throughout the state of New York. And that is not sustainable in light of the threats that we’re seeing. And we can’t expect cities and counties to go it alone. They don’t have the resources, they don’t have the technological know-how and we’re rethinking our entire approach to cybersecurity really based on the model that was put together after 9/11, when we had a fight and talk about how we can bring people together for our physical security. And that was the genesis of the joint terrorism task force.
Well similarly, we’re not talking about physical security we’re talking about cybersecurity and how we can take a different approach to making sure we have partnerships, partnerships that bring our resources together.
And in light of what’s been going on, I’ve been in regular contact with the White House. We’ve had calls. I’ve been speaking directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary Mayorkas, over the weekend. I thought it was serious enough that I convened members of my cabinet on Sunday, asking all of them to come together and tell me what steps they’ve been taking and where there may be any shortcomings in our statewide operations, as well as our critical infrastructure.
As I mentioned, the power authority, our utility grids, our transportation networks, our water. So I wanted to assess our ongoing cybersecurity efforts and to really assure New Yorkers that our systems are protected. And also we realize it’s about coordinating with different sectors, private sector, what steps they can be taking, even small businesses. So this is a multifaceted approach to make sure that we’re doing everything we possibly can to prepare and then when necessary react to any attacks.
So today I’m very proud to announce the first in the nation Statewide Joint Security Operations Center. That is where we are today. And this is going to be the nerve center for our cyber operations. We bring all the talent together, the resources, the data sharing that has been going on in silos for far too long. And it’s so important. We realize now that when you see even a small attack in one system that could be an indicator of more to come and how we respond to that will prepare us for the larger attacks.
So by collaborating and sharing literally one space, and we just saw there’s going to be a 117 desktops where people can work together in collaboration with the city of Newark here and our other partners. We’re going to be able to enhance our ability to respond to any attacks as well as prevent them.
We realized that we’re only as strong as our weakest link and the synergy between even our local governments, our cities, and our counties, they’re connected to our state operations. So an attack on them could lead to a larger attack and disruption of service from the state as well. So again, breaking down the silos, the data sharing that has not gone on and bringing it together under one place, and we can strengthen our defenses exponentially.
And we all know that cyber criminals are relentless. They are motivated, whether they’re state actors, whether they’re rogue individuals, they’re trying to disrupt our operations. Their intent is truly malicious, and that’s why we want to take serious steps here today.
They’re trying to disrupt our systems and sometimes even extort us for money. And we’ve seen that with hospitals and schools and universities in our own state. And in fact that right now, even costs us $5 to $10 billion a year annually. And just in the last year, 2020 to 21, we’ve had actually 85 serious attacks. And this is even before we’re dealing with the geopolitical situation that I referenced earlier.
So we know cyber-attacks will continue to happen. And in the long term, this joint security operation, which we call JSOC, you always have to have an acronym if you’re talking about anything in law enforcement, JSOC, this’ll be the tip of the spear for our cybersecurity operations in the state.
And here we are at 11 MetroTech. And again, this will allow us to have a statewide view and operation sharing. They’ll be doing tabletop exercises. They’ll be working closely together. And I have to tell you, this is absolutely unprecedented. I anticipate that this will be a model for other states. Other areas should be dealing with the same sense of urgency that we [bring] to this. But we know New York state, New York City, we are always going to be in the line of sight for the terrorists and those who want to disrupt our way of life. And knowing that we are the epicenter of financial institutions, and our operations are large infrastructure, and our transportation systems, the MTA, the Port Authority. So that is why we were working so closely with them. And I want to thank Mayor Adams and Chief Technology Officer, Matt Fraser for their partnership.
We just had a tour of the facility. It is state-of-the-art. This, again, is an incredible model of what collaboration and partner looks like as well. As I mentioned, Albany Mayor Sheehan and, Mayor Spano, who’ve traveled here together today. So this is what collaboration looks like. Physically here, but also we have to put money behind this. And I realized as Governor, and I started asking questions about what we’ve done, where our investments have been, they have been lacking. And I’m proud that my administration is proposing a historic $62 million investment in cybersecurity. More than double what has been spent in previous years and making sure that we have the resource.
But what about our local governments? I’m a former local government official. 14 years in local government. If someone told us that my town had to prepare for cyber-attacks, it would have been, “I don’t have the resources. I don’t have the money to be able to put toward that.” So, understanding that, at the most organic level, because I’ve been there, I want to let the localities know that we’re on their side, that we’re going to help them. And that’s why I’m putting together a plan for $30 million to help our localities buy this, at a subsidized price, and get the technological know-how that they need to defend themselves. As I ask more questions on my team, “Do we have enough people in place right now? Where are we getting the smartest, the best professionals in the industry who can help us deal with this challenge?”
And so we’re also going to be increasing the number of cybersecurity professionals that we have in the state’s workforce. Right now I’m looking to hire 70. Anybody knows somebody wants to get a job? I need 70 highly trained individuals, and this will help us shore up our defenses, identify our weaknesses and protect from any vulnerabilities. So we’re going to be aggressive about identifying cybersecurity individuals who are early in their careers through our Excelsior Fellows program. Also mid-year technologists who have specialties in this, offering them 18 months deployments to become embedded with these operations right here, an incredible experience for them and we’ll take from their experience as well.
And so I say, our SUNY and CUNY systems are also primed to be training the next generation of professionals, making sure that, in addition to what we have in Albany and Mayor Sheehan and I have been here, the College Of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security, at the University of Albany, first of its kind in the nation, we need to replicate this. So we have this training, its available, cybersecurity degrees all over the State of New York. These are our ways that we’re going to be attracting more people getting more talent here and using, the very best and the brightest that we can to address this threat.
And lastly, this is also an individual challenge. And I’m afraid that many of members of the public become desensitized when they say, well, “You need to make sure that you have a strong passwords and multifactor authentication,” which people not even quite sure what that means. You need to protect yourself and change your passwords. Be prepared. Act as if you know that attack is coming, because if it comes and you’re not ready, it can be devastating. Your access to your money, your ability to make purchases. You do not want to be there at a place where you would say to yourself, “I wish I had taken steps.”
This is the warning. This is the warning in light of what’s happening globally. This is what is happening, throughout a normal course of our years, as we’ve seen with these attacks, we’ve experienced over the last decade. And so, now is the time for New Yorkers to be prepared. And those of us with older parents or grandparents, tell them not to open up an email if they do not know, it’s not pictures from their grandchildren, don’t open it up. Because there really is a lot of phishing going on, a lot of opportunities for people to really take your personal information and use it in nefarious ways. And so we want to make sure that our older loved ones hear this warning, understand what they need to do, or not do, in a circumstance that we’re describing here as well.
So, I’ll close by saying the threat of cyber-attacks is very real. Particularly now, that is the warning we’re receiving out of Washington, particularly for a place like New York, and therefore our state and our cities will be taking a leading role in fortifying our defenses in the battlefield against cyber warfare.
And we will be as relentless in our defense as the criminals are in their aggression. Mark my words, we will thwart them at every step of the way. And this is proof of what we’re doing here today. Again, first in the nation. And I do hope that other states and other governors will follow the lead of what we’re doing here today.
So with that, I want to thank everyone for coming, and invite Mayor Adams to address all of you. Thank you.