RYE, N.Y. – A report that an Iranian hacker group infiltrated the control system of Rye’s Bowman Dam in 2013 has left local officials and residents questioning why they were not informed sooner and seeking answers from the national government.
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County Executive Rob Astorino called the lapse “unacceptable.” Sen. Charles Schumer said the revelation “serves as a bucket of ice water in the face.” And some local residents expressed frustration that news of the cyber attack on the dam, which sits at the border of Rye and Port Chester, is coming two years after the fact.
“My initial reaction is ‘Oh God’,” said Susan Landsberg, co-owner of Landsberg Jewelers in Rye. “Why would they be interested in breaking into the dam?”
In fact, some locals question the event altogether, unable to grasp the incentives that a hacker group would have to breach the dam’s control system—although officials and the Iranian hacktivist group itself, SOBH Cyber Jihad, have confirmed.
“I honestly doubt that this happened,” said Erin Bruehl, a Pleasantville resident. “In Rye, that just seems a little crazy. What would they possibly have to gain by that?”
In a press conference Wednesday, Astorino called on the Department of Homeland Security to release more information on the breach, much of which remains classified, saying, "We need to understand what risks and security issues are present so we can prevent an attack, not read about it two years later in the newspaper."
“The public should know everything there is to know,” Landsberg said. “The whole concept of self-government, which is what our country is based on, is that we should know what’s going on.”
However, Bruehl argued that more information flowing into the public domain could be threatening.
“That would compromise national security,” Bruehl said. “The government has the right to keep things that could potentially put us in danger private.”
Westchester County sits on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which Astorino noted in his demand for more information from Homeland Security.
Previous Daily Voice stories on the Iranian hack can be found here: