Smithtown resident takes a closer look at cybersecurity threats

Smithtown resident takes a closer look at cybersecurity threats

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Jonathan Berlin, second from left, smiles with other participants at a recent Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners’ Association meeting. Photo from Allison Gayne

Water commissions and cybersecurity threats may not sound like they have much in common, but to one Smithtown resident the two are intertwined.

Jonathan Berlin recently spoke to water commissioners from districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties about measures that should be applied to the water supply industry and Long Island suppliers.

“There has been a growing concern of cybersecurity threats in the last few years,” Berlin said in a phone interview.

The Smithtown resident works as an information technology consultant for Total Technology Solutions, a computer service firm based on the North Shore. He said his goal is to bring a better sense of awareness to organizations of threats they face and help them limit their risk.

“[Water commissions] are a target, and I do a lot of work with local governments,” Berlin said. He also said clients he has worked with have seen threats from Russia, China and more.

“Some [hackers] just want to see what they can get through to,” he said. But other security breaches can access emails, contact lists, spread computer viruses and more.

“Our critical infrastructure continues to be at risk from threats in cyberspace, and our economy is harmed by the theft of our intellectual property.”
— Barack Obama

Cybersecurity is not just a local issue. According to news reports, a county in Nevada came under attack this past March for a breach, and in 2011, a city in Texas suffered as well.

“Now that we see this is a risk, we need to put a plan into place,” Berlin said.

President Barack Obama (D) announced a Cybersecurity National Action Plan in February to take a series of short-term and long-term actions to improve our nation’s cybersecurity posture.

“America’s economic prosperity, national security, and our individual liberties depend on our commitment to securing cyberspace and maintaining an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet,” Obama said in a White House press statement. “Our critical infrastructure continues to be at risk from threats in cyberspace, and our economy is harmed by the theft of our intellectual property. I believe if we address [threats] effectively, we can ensure that the internet remains an engine for economic growth and a platform for the free exchange of ideas.”

The commission is made up of 12 individuals from the business and educational fields, and they are expected to make a presentation in December with recommendations to the nation for actions that can be taken over the next decade to strengthen cybersecurity in both the public and private sector.

Berlin said he and his company try to penetrate their client’s websites when they are working to improve their cybersecurity and test how vulnerable the municipality is.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, internet users should always be wary of clicking on links and opening attachments in emails. To keep a system safe, anti-virus software should always be up to date as well.

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