U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY), top Republican on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, on July 7 hosted a roundtable at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, N.Y., to encourage the adoption of better cybersecurity practices and prevent a major future cyber incident from happening in central New York.
“Right here in central New York, we’ve seen the impact of the recent rise in cybercrime,” Rep. Katko said. “In 2019, attacks on the City of Syracuse School District and the Onondaga County Public Library System shut down their systems and significantly disrupted operations.”
Rep. Katko’s roundtable — which was held less than a week after a massive ransomware attack by a Russian-based criminal group called REvil that may have affected more than 1,000 businesses — included discussions with Nitin Natarajan, deputy director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), as well as other regional CISA representatives.
“I was glad to welcome Deputy Director Natarajan from CISA to central New York for this conversation and to provide representatives from local government, education, healthcare, and small business with resources necessary to manage cybersecurity threats,” said Rep. Katko.
CISA offers several free cybersecurity trainings and webinars to support state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and K-12 institutions, according to the agency, which also offers several programs, technical assistance, tools, exercises, and awareness efforts to raise the level of understanding about the risks and mitigation strategies for critical infrastructure owners and operators.
Additionally, CISA recently launched the Reduce the Risk of Ransomware Campaign, which is focused on encouraging organizations to implement basic cybersecurity best practices and leverage tools and resources from CISA to help reduce cyber risks, the agency said.
Rep. Katko also has proposed a seven-prong response plan entitled “Ransomware Pandemic: Next Steps to Bounce Back,” which calls for ransoms to be paid only in the rarest of exceptions; holds bad actors accountable; would properly resource CISA, which “should be on track to becoming a $5 billion agency with five years;” identifies systemically important critical infrastructure; calls for companies to assess risk and harden systems; demands best practices; and pushes for cryptocurrency transparency, according to a summary sheet.
“Earlier this year, I took over as ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee and have sought to work with CISA to improve our cybersecurity capabilities and prevent cyberattacks,” the congressman said. “This has been a continuation of my life’s work to keep our community safe.”