New York City opens cyber defense center

New York City has become the first American city to launch its own cyber defense center in a bid to tackle a rise in the number of attacks on US corporations. Built inside a skyscraper in lower Manhattan, the real-time operations center is designed to protect against the latest cyber security threats and is staffed by a coalition of government agencies and private businesses, including IBM, Amazon, the Federal Reserve Bank, the New York Police Department, and multiple healthcare conglomerates.

All in all, 282 different partners are sharing intel on cyber threats, according to The Wall Street Journal. In the event of a cyber attack, their job is to fight the attack while also mustering a city response if the attack hobbles NYC’s infrastructure in any way.
NYC is seen as a likely target for cyber attacks due to its status as a business center and symbol of American financial and cultural power, the Journal noted. Until last week, the two-year effort known as New York City Cyber Critical Services and Infrastructure (CCSI) was completely virtual.

Its opening comes at a time of rising cyber attacks, particularly those involving ransomware, against US businesses and public sector organizations. Recently, around 1,500 businesses were affected by a ransomware attack on customers of Kaseya’s VSA software.
Ransomware is one of the biggest cyber security threats facing businesses today and, given its potential to deliver a high return on investment and the relative ease at which it can spread, this type of attack has become extremely popular among cyber criminals.

In another sign of the worsening crisis, the US Justice Department recently announced it was elevating ransomware investigations to a status similar to that of terrorism. Internal guidance sent to the offices of US attorneys across the country said ransomware investigations in the field should be centrally coordinated with a new task force in Washington, DC.

As for New York City, the virtual version of NYC Cyber Critical Services and Infrastructure was originally launched in 2019, by the New York Police Department, New York City Cyber Command and Global Cyber Alliance, along with a nonprofit dedicated to mitigating cyber risks. Last year, the coalition responded to a ransomware attack on Brooklyn Hospital’s network, where the team spent nearly a week reconfiguring the hospital’s servers and searching for malware.