Cyber intrusion takes Suffolk County websites, email offline

Chanteé Lans Image
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
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Suffolk County is dealing with a significant cyber intrusion after someone infiltrated the county's computer system. Chantee Lans has the story.

HAPPAUGUE, New York (WABC) -- Suffolk County is dealing with a significant cyber intrusion after someone infiltrated the county's computer system -- forcing the county to shut down all its websites and email.

On Tuesday, anyone who tried to access Suffolk County's website saw blue with no words, links or anywhere to scroll.

The Suffolk County police website displayed a message saying the connection to the site was not secure.

"At this time I can report that we have detected malware and that it has the hallmarks of ransomware," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Bellone said it's an intrusion and not a cyber attack because the county system wasn't disabled or taken over. It's also not ransomware and no money was demanded.

What started inside the Suffolk County Police Department last Thursday with an alert of suspicious activity prompted a countywide shutdown of emails and web-based services.

Many Suffolk County residents who were heading to traffic court were caught in the disruption.

Ryan Hedlund, who came to pay a parking ticket, was turned away and given a slip.

"Just showing that I was here and I showed up and they said that all computers are down," Hedlund said.

County leaders say no personal information of residents was breached and 911 and 311 call centers were not impacted.

State police stepped in to give Suffolk County police internet access and equipment and helped to run data and plates.

IT and cyber security experts say the goal now is to identify the source, remove it and restore the county's system safely.

"Studies have shown that 60 percent of the ransomware attacks focus on Americans," said cyber security expert Mike Balboni. "So the county of Suffolk is by far not the first nor will they be the last."

Suffolk County is working on launching a temporary webpage that will give information on each county department and agency.

The cyber intrusion could take up to several weeks to fix.

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