After a cyberattack forced a three-week shutdown of much of Suffolk County’s digital infrastructure, its clerk’s office will resume in-person title searches next week.
In an email sent to title insurance companies late Thursday, the county clerk’s office said it will open for title searching at 8 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 3. However, the office will actually open Saturday, Oct. 1 with a “limited number of terminals” to verify the readiness of the new computer configuration, according to a county spokesperson.
“We will have roughly 120 terminals available throughout the clerk’s office for searches to be conducted. At this point we believe all of the programs you are accustomed to using will be available. There are still some issues we are working out through testing which we hope to resolve over time. There are currently two printers available and we are working towards bringing additional ones online,” read the email.
The clerk’s office warned that the system will likely be slower than usual and added that the goal is to increase business hours once it’s confirmed that the “computer environment” can handle the increased volume expected.
In addition, the clerk’s office said it is working towards getting its systems up to be able to handle services regarding recordings and other related filings, though the office didn’t offer a timeframe when those functions would be up and running.
As for now, there will be no ability to search the county website or for examiners to access the systems from remote computers.
“The real estate industry is critical to our economy, and last week, I met with various stakeholder groups to discuss contingency plans as the county continues to assess the cyber intrusion,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said via email. “In line with our rolling restoration of services, tomorrow the Suffolk County Clerk’s office will be open for in-person title searches to allow real estate transactions to proceed. I want to thank County Clerk Judy Pascale, for her partnership as we continue to navigate these unprecedented circumstances. Together we are working to ensure services that our residents rely on are restored in a safe and secure way. I also want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul, a former clerk herself, for her support and helping provide the necessary equipment to make this all possible.”
As LIBN previously reported, the cyberattack has wreaked havoc throughout the Long Island real estate industry because it paralyzed the county clerk’s office, which is responsible for recording documents and assisting with records searches for properties.
The attack shut down the county’s online systems earlier this month, and has delayed or cancelled real estate closings, especially on larger commercial deals, as title companies can’t search county databases to accurately ensure that the properties have no liens, judgments or other encumbrances in order to pass title.
Suffolk County websites and web-based applications were taken down on Sept. 8, after officials found malware in county systems. Ransomware postings on the website DataBreaches.net showed images of county documents and the hackers claimed to have extracted court records, sheriff’s office records, contracts with the state, and personal data of citizens from the domain of the county clerk.
County officials have yet to respond to requests for comment on when its systems will be back online and operating normally.