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Dam Threat Points Out Need For Better Communication, Astorino Says

A cyberattack on the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye Brook has raised concerns over an apparent gap in communication between the federal government and local first responders.
A cyberattack on the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye Brook has raised concerns over an apparent gap in communication between the federal government and local first responders. Photo Credit: Provided

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, reacting to the recent indictments of seven Iranian hackers who had allegedly targeted a dam in Rye Brook, is continuing his call for constant vigilance and more coordinated communication with the federal government.

The indictments, he said, “are another stark reminder that there are people in the world who want to do us harm.”

When the public’s safety is in peril, any and all threats must be taken very seriously, Astorino said.

"While the Bowman Avenue Dam may seem inconsequential, the attempt to hack it was not,” the county executive said.

The 20-foot dam keeps a small creek, the Blind Brook, from flooding the basements and ground floors of homes and businesses downstream.

Small as the dam may be, it was its computer-guided controls that the hackers apparently were after, according to a report in The New York Times.

The hack was part of a wider cyberattack, The Times article said, that prevented customers from accessing their accounts at dozens of financial institutions.

Any knowledge gained by these fishing expeditions can be applied in Westchester or anywhere in the world, Astorino said.

“From a different continent and with the click of a mouse, terrorists can wreak havoc on critical infrastructure and cause death and destruction,” he added.

Warding off future cyberattacks “can only be accomplished if we work together and share information," Astorino said.

The indictments were announced by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in March.

County officials only learned about the cyberattack when they read it in a report in The Wall Street Journal, Astorino said.

"Coordinated communication is one of our prime lines of defense against these types of terror threats. For Westchester County, which sits within the Counter Terrorism Zone, to find out about this threat in the newspaper is just not acceptable," Astorino said.

The county had been discussing the situation with relevant agencies, he said, "to improve coordination and communication.”

To read The New York Times story, click here.

To read a related Daily Voice story, click here.

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