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After months in recovery, Bellone says Suffolk County cyberattack began a year ago

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
Richard Drew
Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the cyberattack that has plagued the county for the last four months started much sooner — as early as December of last year.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Bellone summarized a report commissioned by the county from the digital forensic auditing firm Palo Alto Networks. Bellone said the hack started in the County Clerk’s Office, gaining top administrator passwords before making its way throughout the county’s sprawling system, department by department.

Once they had full control of the county’s system, they demanded a $2.5 million ransom which Bellone refused to pay.

“Payment is no guarantee that the criminal actors will honor their commitment or that they won't come back later to extract the additional demand," Bellone said.

According to Bellone, County Clerk Judith Pascale was misled by her top IT director who acted nonchalantly to the attack.

Bellone said that official has stepped down.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.