Rep. Katko, Top Homeland Security Officials Host Roundtable Discussion to Provide Cybersecurity Resources to Leaders in Local Government, Education, Healthcare & Business

July 8, 2021
Press Release

SYRACUSE, NY— At Onondaga Community College, U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Ranking Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, today hosted a roundtable discussion with Nitin Natarajan, Deputy Director for the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and regional officials from the agency.  The discussion served as an opportunity for CISA representatives to provide support and answer questions from local government, education, healthcare, and small business organizations for managing cybersecurity threats.

“Right here in Central New York, we’ve seen the impact of the recent rise in cybercrime. In 2019, attacks on the City of Syracuse School District and the Onondaga County Public Library System shut down their systems and significantly disrupted operations,” said Rep. Katko. “Earlier this year, I took over as Ranking Member on the Homeland Security Committee and have sought to work with CISA to improve our cybersecurity capabilities and prevent cyberattacks. This has been a continuation of my life’s work to keep our community safe.”

He continued, “Today, I was glad to welcome Deputy Director Natarajan from CISA to Central New York for this conversation and to provide representatives from local government, education, healthcare, and small business with resources necessary to manage cybersecurity threats. The goal of this discussion was to encourage the adoption of better cybersecurity practices and prevent a major future cyber incident from happening in Central New York.”

Federal support for public and private entities include:

  • CISA offers several free cybersecurity trainings and webinars to support state, local, tribal, and territorial governments (SLTT), critical infrastructure owners and operators, and K-12 institutions. 
  • CISA offers several programs, technical assistance, tools, exercises, and awareness efforts to raise the level of understanding of risks and mitigation strategies for critical infrastructure owners and operators. 
  • CISA offers several cyber hygiene services to proactively bolster the defense of organizations at no cost. This includes vulnerability scanning, phishing campaign assessment, web application scanning, and remote penetration testing. 
  • CISA recently launched the ‘Reduce the Risk of Ransomware’ Campaign to raise awareness to combat the evolving threat. CISA’s campaign is focused on encouraging organizations to implement basic cybersecurity best practices, and leverage tools and resources from CISA to help reduce cyber risks. 

This roundtable was particularly timely coming off a holiday weekend where a Russian-based ransomware criminal group, called REvil, compromised an American-based IT services provider, Kaseya, as a force multiplier to infect Kaseya’s customers with ransomware. This has been described as a supply chain ransomware attack, and is just the latest instance of ransomware impacting critical industries and sectors in the United States. Rep. Katko has proposed a seven prong response plan to gain the upper hand on the ransomware pandemic once and for all.

As Ranking Member on the House Homeland Security Committee, and previously as the Ranking Member on the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection & Innovation Subcommittee, Rep. Katko has taken a leading role in Congress on efforts that strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity. In Central New York, Rep. Katko has also worked to disseminate critical guidance by holding local roundtables to connect local election officials with CISA and assist municipalities in strengthening their cybersecurity protections.