Senate Moves to Protect Schools From Cyber-thieves

 

Foley bill establishes task force to empower school districts on
financial security, money management

The Senate Democratic Majority has passed legislation (S7323/Foley) establishing the “School District Financial Security Task Force” charged with helping school districts fortify protections for funds in bank and other financial accounts.
 
Recently, school districts have been targeted by crooks carrying out cyber-theft.  For instance, in December of 2009 cyber criminals transferred more than three million dollars out of the bank accounts of the Duanesburg Central School District over the course of three days.  The majority of the funds were recovered, mostly as a result of the amateur-level experience of the criminals. However, these incidences reflect a growing vulnerability districts have when it comes to their funds, particularly as cyber-thieves access more sophisticated technology.
 
The task force will develop guidelines for schools about money management security.  The state education, banking , and homeland security agencies are directed to investigate security issues that affect school districts and their financial management, develop guidelines for best practices to secure school district finances, and make recommendations for legislation.
 
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, "We must do all we can to help our school districts ensure the safety and security of their funds once the money is deposited into a bank account. Our taxpayers pay property taxes in order to fund teachers, textbooks and other educational items.  They do not pay property taxes to fund the activities for which cyber-thieves who steal money from school district accounts use the money.  This legislation will help school districts by creating a task force whose sole purpose is to provide them with guidelines and best-practices for safeguarding funds deposited in bank accounts."
 
“Criminals should never have the capability of burdening taxpayers,” said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson. “I am confident Senator Foley’s bill will empower school districts to take the necessary steps in securing their financial accounts and other sensitive data.”
 
“Criminal activities that threaten the financial security of our school districts simply cannot be tolerated. I am pleased to join my colleagues in support of legislation implementing the measures necessary to safeguard taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (35th District – D/WF).   
 
The legislation passed overwhelmingly, 43-13, with half of the Republican Conference voting no. For more information about this legislation visit http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S7323