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Suffolk County gives update on forensic examination after cyberattack

Experts predict that people worldwide will be constantly connected by the Internet in 2025 — leading to a greater exchange of ideas but making people more susceptible to cyberattacks and manipulation.
People worldwide are constantly connected by the Internet — leading to a greater exchange of ideas but making people more susceptible to cyberattacks.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced the county has completed the forensic examination into the Sept. 8 cyberattack.

Bellone said the causes of the attack are Log4j system vulnerabilities, an unprotected iron key folder and segregated Information Technology structures.

The county restored online services in February after resolving a cyberattack that began in 2021. Bellone said that the county can get back online “safely and securely.”

“With just 1.6% of systems across all county domains being impacted in any way,” he said. “The county also maintained its backup data, and, as I have stated previously, did not pay ransom.”

The attack resulted in all websites, servers, and networks being offline. The preliminary forensic report found hackers gained entry through the county clerk’s office.

The county previously experienced delays in payments and title searches since they closed real estate transactions. Suffolk officials also restored an online application for civil service tests.

He said previous theories that the Ways and Means Committee and the Joint Legislative Executive IT Steering Committee are at fault is wrong.

Records also show Suffolk County’s IT department knew of or suspected bitcoin mining tactics before the ransom attack. Bellone said the last ransom attack the county received was in October.

“The main causes of this cyber attack are clear,” Bellone said. “Everything else is a distraction from the truth — the truth based on the detailed evidence provided by this forensic examination.”

Suffolk County has spent $3.4 million to restore the system and $2 million on the forensic investigation after the county did not pay a ransom demanded in the attack.

Bellone said the county is making progress in increasing its security levels.

Clare Gehlich is a former news intern at WSHU.