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A special committee is selected to examine Suffolk County's cyber attack

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Elise Amendola
/
AP
Suffolk County continues investigation into cyber attack

The Suffolk County Legislature has formed a special committee to investigate a cyber attack in September.

The malware attack might have exposed the drivers license numbers of nearly 470,000 people with traffic violations, and the Social Security numbers of 26,000 Suffolk County employees and retirees since 2013.

Legislator Anthony Piccirillo, R-Islip, will chair the committee. He said he wants a more open and transparent county government.

“The best disinfectant is sunlight," Piccirillo said. We're going to open the windows and let that sun in here to shine, and make sure that we get the truth.”

The committee is made up of four Republicans and two Democrats. They have subpoena powers to compel county employees and vendors to answer questions about the government computer system.

The county has also hired a forensic team to help determine what happened.

“The purpose of this committee is to do one thing, and one thing only, and that is to find out what happened, and how we can prevent that from happening again,” said Legislator Kevin McCaffrey, R-Lindenhurst, the legislature's presiding officer.

The County Clerk’s Office said the cyber attack was preventable with increased computer security and firewall protection. The clerk has said the legislature could have taken action on several bills as early as January to better protect themselves from a cyber intrusion.

Now, the attack could cost Suffolk County over $20 million and years to fix. "This is not going to be a witch hunt," McCaffrey said. "We have formulated a bipartisan committee to get to the bottom of what happened."

"We cannot restore our entire system the way it was until the time that we feel that system is safe and secure," he continued.

The Nassau County Legislature also approved a contract for cybersecurity services on Monday, citing the fear of a possible attack.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.