As tension continues to roil between the United States, Iran and its proxies across the Middle East, Councilman Robert Holden, the chair of the Committee of Technology, was briefed on the city’s heightened awareness toward the potential of cyber attacks.
The conference call with Chief Information Security Officer Geoff Brown, head of the New York City Cyber Command, Department of Information and Telecommunications Commissioner Jessica Tisch, came as a follow up to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD’s Jan. 3 update in which they reiterated the city’s level of preparedness after the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, and the ensuing missile retaliation from Tehran.
“Just as the mayor and the NYPD stated several times, there has been no specific, credible threat of a cyber attack against our city,” Holden said. “It was very reassuring, however, to learn from Cyber command all of the great work being done to protect New York from such threats.”
“Chief Brown and Commissioner Tisch did an excellent job of explaining the measures that have been taken in past years to ensure a constant heightened state of vigilance. They have learned from previous attempts to disrupt operations of large companies, influence narratives on social media and steal data from agencies, and they are doing everything in their power to protect our cyber network from future threats,” Holden added.
Meanwhile, Senator Charles Schumer revealed that critical bomb-detection equipment that can help law enforcement spot suicide vests, small explosive devices and more at JFK and LaGuardia airports as well as other crowded transit hubs, remain in testing limbo from where it must advance. Schumer called on the federal government and the Transportation Security Administration, which has been testing the technology since 2004, to deploy the bomb-detection equipment immediately.
“Amid tensions with Iran, security concerns and the constant threat of lone-wolf terror, which we have already seen in our subway system, the feds need to plot a course to make this technology install-ready,” Schumer said. “Whether the hurdle is related to cost, complexity or whatever else, the bottom line is that we need to overcome it so law enforcement can have another critical intel tool at the ready.”
Schumer explained that the Stand Off Explosive Detection Technology, without using radiation, can indicate if an individual is carrying or wearing an explosive device giving law enforcement the upper hand, but only if it can advance from testing limbo to priority approval status.
“For 16 years now, the TS has been testing life-saving and terror-preventing technology with little to no widespread adoption, and the most shocking part about it is we’ve seen it work,” Schumer said. “Two years ago, I secured full testing of this equipment at Penn Station where the TSA lauded the trial run, explained how the devices can save lives. Without stopping a single person in the midst of their travels, and yet we still don’t see this technology in wide use across New York City or the nation’s busiest transit hubs. The feds need to explain what’s standing in the way here so we can get to work on addressing the cause.”