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Update from OCM BOCES Regarding Outages

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

To all Superintendents, Board of Education Members, Educators, and Community Members:

The Central New York Regional Information Center (CNYRIC) has been working hard and aggressively to provide a reliable network to all of our districts, one that includes a robust, multi-layered cybersecurity system designed to protect confidential information while ensuring consistent access to the internet.

Still, with cybercrime becoming one of the fastest-growing criminal activities in the United States and around the world, we must continue to be vigilant and pro-active in our efforts to prevent this problem from reoccurring. That is why we are grateful to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer for paying a special visit to OCM BOCES on October 29. During a news conference inside the CNYRIC, Sen. Schumer shined a spotlight on our recent cyberattacks and, more importantly, announced a formal request for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to work with the CNYRIC and local agencies to address this problem.

In his letter to the DHS, Schumer noted that while the CNYRIC has experienced nine cyberattacks over the past six months, resulting in 35 hours of network outages, other RICs across the state have also been targeted. “As I am sure you know, system-wide disruptions have the potential to inflict long-lasting harm on the health of the New York education system, especially if those disruptions become more widespread,” Schumer wrote. “As such, it is critical that targeted Regional Information Centers (RICs) have the necessary information to defend against these cyber-attacks. A DHS-led investigation could go a long way toward supplementing CNYRIC’s ability to determine the true nature and culprits of the RIC cyber-attacks.”

Sen. Schumer praised school districts for participating with RICs across the state, calling it “a brilliant idea” for districts to share technology services because of the vast, specialized knowledge they require and the significant financial savings from equipment costs. “So instead of having each school or school district learn IT (Information Technology), the BOCES take care of it,” he explained.

As district superintendent of OCM BOCES, I will follow up with Sen. Schumer’s office on his request for a DHS investigation. I will also keep you up-to-date on our immediate efforts to strengthen cybersecurity at the CNYRIC, which has an estimated completion time of early December. As I’ve mentioned previously, this work will be completed after-hours and outside peak periods of use. If the network needs to go offline during this process, we will notify you. Please let us know if these times are inconvenient for you or your staff, and we will do everything possible to accommodate your requests.

During this week’s news conference, Sen. Schumer re-emphasized the good news that emerged despite the inconvenience of these attacks — that no personal or confidential information was stolen from any of the 50 districts we serve in the region. I am grateful for that, and I am grateful for your patience and understanding as we continue to do everything possible to protect this information in the future.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Jody Manning, Ed.D.
District Superintendent and CEO OCM BOCES

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