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Astorino Wants Answers On Iranian Hack Security Breach In Westchester

John Cullen, Commissioner of Emergency Services; George Longworth, Commissioner of Public Safety; and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in White Plains. Photo Credit: Contributed
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino questioned why the federal, not local government was informed about the potential cyber threat by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Photo Credit: Zak Failla

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino issued a call to action within the Department of Homeland Security after learning about a cyber terrorist threat at the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye in 2013 just two days ago.

Astorino called that fact, “unacceptable.”

A Wall Street Journal story on the breach, published in Monday's editions, first appeared on its website Sunday night, and also on Daily Voice Sunday evening.

Astorino said he first heard of the news on Monday.

On Wednesday, Astorino called on the Department of Homeland Security to provide more information about the reported Iranian cyber-security breach in Rye, and requested an explanation about why Westchester officials – who would serve as first responders in the event of any incident – weren’t notified about the threat, while the White House was.

“If it was serious enough for the White House to find out, why did it take so long for the officials in charge, if something were to happen, to be included in those talks,” he said. “We need to understand what risks and security issues are present so we can prevent an attack, not read about it two years later in the newspaper.”

Astorino went on to question why the county was not informed of the threat two years ago, despite being a part of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, and having a Westchester County police detective “assigned full-time” to that task force to ensure access to the most secure intelligence affecting residents.

“If something were to happen, we would be the first responders; why was the county not informed,” he questioned. “Looking forward, we need to be a part of this immediately. “

Rye City Manager Marcus Serrano confirmed that in September 2013, officials were approached by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding unauthorized access into a city computer system, specifically at the Bowman Avenue Dam. For a Daily Voice story on Rye city officials confirming the threat, click here.

It is not believed that any data that could pose a threat was accessed, though Astorino stressed that breach at the small dam near Rye’s border with Harrison, may represent a larger danger.

“The fact that it was this dam isn’t the issue. Who’s to say this isn’t a dry run to see if they can do it somewhere larger and more vulnerable?” he said. “We’re all on the same team. We just want to make sure every resident is safe.” 

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