As our neighbors in Suffolk County continue to struggle in the aftermath of a devastating, coordinated cyberattack upon their information technology infrastructure, Nassau County must confront an unsettling truth: It is only a matter of time before cyber attackers take aim at this County and its residents.In recent years, perpetrators have become more brazen, sophisticated and coordinated in their attempts to shut down administrative systems, steal and exploit highly sensitive personal data, and generally wreak havoc in our society. Faced with adversaries that have no qualms about harming everyday citizens, Nassau County must marshal a strong and proactive response to protect its residents and interests.For that reason, I recently filed legislation to strengthen Nassau County’s cybersecurity and cyber resiliency protocols by requiring the County to retain an internal cybersecurity administrator and team within the Nassau County Department of Information Technology.Not only would an in-house team be laser-focused on protecting Nassau’s cybersecurity, creating such an entity would fulfill a recommendation contained within a recent Suffolk County risk assessment report to hire a cybersecurity chief - a recommendation that Newsday reports Suffolk did not follow, and Nassau has not yet pursued.In the event that our county system is breached, a separate legislative proposal would direct the Department of Consumer Affairs to give any future victims resources that they can use to protect their credit and alert the major credit bureaus of the exposure.I urge County Executive Bruce Blakeman and my colleagues in the Majority Caucus to consider the legislative approach I have set forth. In the private sector, forward-thinking corporations invest significant resources toward “hardening” their own technological systems and creating rapid-response resiliency protocols so that they can rebound from cyberattacks as quickly as possible. Because municipal entities like Nassau County are entrusted with maintaining extremely sensitive data - the release of which could cause significant harm and invoke a sense of permanent vulnerability - we have an obligation to do the same for our residents.Ramping up our internal investments in cybersecurity will optimally equip us to bolster our staff and capabilities, prevent future attacks, and rapidly rebound in the event of an incident. It is just one way for us to show taxpayers that we are fully engaged with the mission of securely administering the business of Nassau County in this digital age and committed to protecting the welfare of residents and the information they have placed in our care.
Siela A. Bynoe, of Westbury, has represented the Second District in the Nassau County Legislature since 2014.