Albany County officials meet with cyber security experts to keep data safe

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Cyber security has been a top issue on a lot of minds on a national level and now local leaders are making it a priority too.

Albany County wants to make sure any information going through its offices is secure.

County Executive Dan McCoy met with a cyber security company called SparkCognition on Tuesday.

They specialize in a form of artificial intelligence that actually changes as malware threatens your information.

Retired General John Allen helps head up the team at SparkCognition. Their job is to protect any and all information coming in and out of places like Albany County.

“Cyberspace has no boundaries. The reach is unlimited.”

That’s why McCoy met with the team to find out how to best keep information safe in the cyber world.

“How do you function as a government if everything shuts down or has a virus in it?”

General Allen says the nature of war and attacks are changing from being in a physical realm to being in a virtual one.

“Conflict in the world today has changed dramatically just in the last ten years.”

He says for an entity like Albany County, it’s crucial to stay ahead of those threats.

“Potentially to manipulate voting or manipulate voter databases. That can have a dramatic affect in an election.”

McCoy says he’s prepared to do anything to stay on top of a cyber threat.

“It’s so critical for a county government and towns cities and villages to hold their information like you would money in a bank.”

General Allen says there are two ways to stay secure, one called signature based endpoint protection which requires frequent updates.

“The one between updates on your system creates vulnerability for you.”

What SparkCognition provides is a type of artificial intelligence.

“The system then learns what’s normal on your system then anything trying to get in it recognizes that as a threat.”

McCoy says this type of protection is just another part of the county working to keep you safe.

“We have to make sure at the end of the day that through the internet we’re protecting them just as much as we are in the public eye.”

Currently, the county hasn’t received any cyber security threats that it knows of.

McCoy says that’s why it’s even more important to have several levels of security in place so people here never have to worry about something like that.

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