New York City to offer free cybersecurity tools to deter criminal hackers

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that, in an effort to improve cybersecurity, the city will be offering a free mobile app that warns users when suspicious activity is detected on their devices. The program, NYC Secure, is a pioneering cybersecurity initiative protecting New Yorkers online.

The city also announced “new world-class protection for its public Wi-Fi networks, becoming the first city in the world to provide such services to all residents and visitors free of charge.”

Established in 2017, NYC Cyber Command (NYC3) is overseeing the implementation of NYC Secure. Using the latest technologies and working with public–private partnerships, NYC3 works to detect, protect, respond, and recover from threats, while setting information security policies and standards.

“While no individual is immune to cybersecurity threats, this program will add an extra layer of security to personal devices that often house a huge amount of sensitive data,” said Geoff Brown, citywide chief information security officer and head of NYC3. Mayor de Blasio said that the program would cost about $5 million per year.

NYC Secure will enable mobile devices to analyze cyber threats while respecting privacy

The app will launch in June and will mitigate risks by detecting malicious attacks and notifying users of attempts to compromise their device. Users will also receive protection guidance, such as disconnect from a malicious Wi-Fi network or navigate away from a dangerous website. The app will not take any actions on the phone itself, so it will be down to the user to take the appropriate action.

NYC Secure will analyze threats, operating under a strict privacy policy with layers of technical controls that ensure user privacy. The app does not access personally identifiable information (PII), and will not collect or transmit any private data. Similar commercial applications collect data from mobile devices for external analysis in the Cloud, which compromises user privacy. This will not be the case with NYC Secure.

NYC is working to better secure Wi-Fi for residents, workers, and visitors

By year end, NYC will have implemented a new layer of security to its guest and public Wi-Fi networks, and the LinkNYC network. The innovation will help to prevent guest Wi-Fi users from downloading malicious software, or accessing phishing websites.

Networks will use Quad9, a secure solution that routes users’ web traffic through a secure network of servers. Servers detect and block malicious sites and email. Browsing sessions will not access or store PII, in an effort to honor user privacy. The city is soliciting feedback during this process – for more information, visit secure.nyc.

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