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Fallout From Hack of City Law Department Could Linger for Months

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The shoulder patch of a New York City police officer.

New York City officials did not answer questions about whether the Law Department used multifactor authentication, widely considered a cybersecurity best practice.

Credit: Shutterstock

Among the thousands of lawsuits New York City faces each year, this case was unexceptional — a man suing the city and several police officers over his arrest during a 2016 demonstration. But last week, the case hit a snag for an unusual reason: The city's Law Department had been hacked, and lawyers were struggling to gain access to important documents.

"Practically all attorneys from the New York City Law Department still do not have remote access to electronic files," wrote Jorge M. Marquez, a city attorney, to the judge on July 1, asking for an extension of deadlines in the false-arrest case.

Mr. Marquez noted that attorneys could enter the Law Department's offices to review files but because of the pandemic, many attorneys, including himself, were not going into work. "It is currently unknown when this problem will be resolved," he wrote, adding that the city hoped it would be in the coming weeks.

More than a month after hackers gained access to the Law Department's computer system — which stores an untold amount of sensitive information — it is now apparent that the breach had a more profound effect than officials have publicly revealed. The department's chief IT officer has been reassigned and replaced. And the fallout, as chronicled in internal communications obtained by The New York Times, may for months continue to affect the 1,000-lawyer agency that defends the city in court.

From The New York Times
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