Mayor de Blasio Announces NYC Secure, The City's First-Ever Cybersecurity Initiative to Protect New Yorkers Online

March 29, 2018

Free smartphone app to launch this summer and new security for public Wi-Fi networks deploying now

NEW YORK – Mayor de Blasio today announced the launch of NYC Secure, a pioneering cybersecurity initiative aimed at protecting New Yorkers online. Using a steadily evolving suite of solutions, NYC Secure will defend New Yorkers from malicious cyber activity on mobile devices, across public Wi-Fi networks, and beyond. The first NYC Secure programs will include a free City-sponsored smartphone protection app that, when installed, will issue warnings to users when suspicious activity is detected on their mobile devices. The City additionally 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.

NYC Cyber Command (NYC3), which leads the City of New York’s cyber defense efforts, is overseeing the development and implementation of NYC Secure. Created in 2017 by Executive Order, NYC Cyber Command directs citywide cyber defense and incident response, mitigates cyber threats, and provides guidance to the Mayor and City agencies. Using the latest technologies and leveraging public-private partnerships, NYC Cyber Command works across more than 100 agencies and offices to protect, detect, respond, and recover from threats while setting citywide information security policies and standards.

“Our streets are already the safest of any big city in the country – now we’re bringing that same commitment to protecting New Yorkers into cyberspace,” said Mayor de Blasio. “New Yorkers manage so much of their lives online, from paying bills to applying for jobs to engaging with government. NYC Secure will ensure that we’re applying the best and most effective protection efforts to help New Yorkers defend themselves online.”

“In order to stay a step ahead of cyber criminals that are continuously finding new ways to hack devices, we must invest in the safety of the digital lives of our residents,” said Geoff Brown, Citywide Chief Information Security Officer and Head of NYC Cyber Command. “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.”

“I salute Mayor de Blasio for NYC Secure.  The City of New York has long been a progressive model for the nation in providing services for its people.  Now, through his innovative leadership in cybersecurity, Bill has placed New York at the forefront of great cities in an area of national urgency. I salute Mayor de Blasio and his administration for this important cybersecurity initiative,” said Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

The City’s initiative to get a free smartphone protection app into the hands of the public is in response to a dramatic increase in the use of mobile phones to connect to the internet. In early 2017, mobile phones accounted for 50% of web traffic, and the average U.S. user spends over 5 hours a day on their smartphone. Despite this significant growth in use, most mobile phones remain vulnerable to hackers. Gartner estimates that by 2020, 30% of all cyberattacks will be mobile-based.

The app, which will be available free to all New Yorkers this summer, will help minimize these risks by identifying malicious attacks and warning users of attempts to compromise their device. Users will receive recommended steps to protect themselves, such as disconnecting from a malicious Wi-Fi network, navigating away from a compromised website, or uninstalling a malicious app. The app will not take actions on the phone by itself.

The City-sponsored app will equip mobile devices with the technology needed to analyze threats while operating under a strict privacy policy and layers of technical controls that ensure user privacy is respected. The app works without accessing any personally identifiable information, and will not collect or transmit any private data. Similar technology available commercially typically checks for threats by collecting data from a mobile device and analyzing it externally in the cloud--meaning users must sacrifice the privacy of their data to secure their devices. That is not the case with the City-sponsored application.

The City will additionally strengthen its own Wi-Fi networks by implementing a new layer of security. This innovative technology will protect users browsing the Internet on City guest wireless networks from downloading malicious software such as ransomware, or accessing phishing websites that attempt to trick users into providing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, or credit card details. The technology defends browsing sessions without using or storing any personally identifiable information, while adhering to the highest standards of user privacy.

NYC Cyber Command has mandated the deployment of the technology across all “Guest” and public Wi-Fi networks provided by New York City agencies and related entities by the end of the year. Eighteen agencies and offices are already utilizing the protection for their internal networks, and the remainder of internal networks will implement it by the end of 2018. The technology will also be deployed on the LinkNYC network, which already has 1,400 free wi-fi Kiosks around the five boroughs and millions of users.

The City will be actively soliciting feedback during this process. For more information on NYC Secure, please visit secure.nyc.

“NYC Secure delivers a world-class cybersecurity upgrade to New Yorkers and all who use our City’s expanding public WiFi network,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “In 2015, I joined with the City of London Police and Center for Internet Security to found the non-profit Global Cyber Alliance (GCA), which co-developed the Quad9 technology being adopted today. We are delighted to see the work of GCA and its partners integrated into groundbreaking programs like NYC Secure, which will expand the reach of safe-browsing technology and protect millions of residents and visitors alike. I commend Mayor de Blasio and his administration for its proactive and collaborative approach to combat the rising tide of cybercrime.”

"We commend NYC for launching this program and including Quad9 as part of it to protect New Yorkers from malicious websites,” said Mary Kavany, Chief Operating Officer of the Global Cyber Alliance. “Quad9 was developed for the public good to provide security while at the same time preserving users privacy. New York City’s action to protect users of the public WiFi system is a bench mark achievement that will guide other jurisdictions."

“As hackers ramp up attacks on mobile devices and mobile networks, we must create cultures of security in the public sphere,” said Christopher Young, CEO of cybersecurity company McAfee. “Initiatives like this one in New York City will help grow awareness of the increasing cyberattack problem and may urge citizens to take more action to protect themselves.”

“The online environment is powerful and useful but it is also becoming hazardous. Attention to safety and security is vital and Google is completely committed to working with New York City to provide safe and secure communications for all its citizens. This is a shared responsibility and we will do our part,” said Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist.

“Cyber breaches and cybercrimes deeply affect the livelihoods of millions of people,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO, JPMorgan Chase. “This is a growing concern, which is why JPMorgan Chase devotes significant resources to protecting our clients and customers. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York for helping empower New Yorkers to protect themselves from the increasing risk of cyber threats.”

Mark McLaughlin, chairman and CEO of Palo Alto Networks said, “Cybersecurity is a responsibility we all must take seriously. At Palo Alto Networks, we are committed to making the Internet safer for everyone. We applaud NYC Cyber Command for leading this effort on behalf of one of the greatest cities in the world.”

"CyberCrime is sadly a part of our daily reality, and NYU Tandon is eager to continue its partnership with New York City and support Mayor de Blasio's initiatives that help provide online privacy and security," said Nasir Memon, Associate Dean at NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike Co-founder & CTO, said “Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. Crowdstrike is committed to making the Internet safer. We commend NYC Cyber Command for its leadership on this important issue.”

Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer, F-Secure, said "This is exactly the kind of action cities should be doing, to secure their citizens. It's great to see New York City take the initiative in this urgent matter."

Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said, “Threats to cyber security can put all New Yorkers at risk and often lead to stolen information, identity theft or other serious financial crimes. The City’s smartphone protection app helps safeguard mobile devices to prevent private data from falling into the wrong hands, and I commend Mayor de Blasio for making this technology widely available.”

“Recent events have made clear the need for keeping personal online information as secure as possible,” U.S. Representative Eliot Engel said. “Cyber threats are real and we cannot continue to be flat-footed when it comes to responding to them. I’m pleased the City is taking a proactive approach to helping residents keep their information safe, and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for implementing this robust cybersecurity strategy.  But we must continue doing more at all levels of government, which is why I am pushing for the implementation of greater protections at the federal level.  Together, we can make strong progress toward protecting ourselves from one of the most serious threats of our time.”

U.S. Representative Joe Crowley, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said “As breaches of personal data have become more and more common, we must innovate new ways to protect New Yorkers. NYC Secure is a preemptive security measure, one that will help New Yorkers avoid malicious attacks before it’s too late.”

“I congratulate Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Government on the launch of NYC Secure, the city’s first-ever cybersecurity initiative that will protect New Yorkers online. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, I have been a strong advocate for enhanced cybersecurity protections for all consumers, especially those living in New York City. I look forward to working with the Mayor and NYC Government on issues such as cybersecurity, privacy and encryption to prepare our communities for the 21st century,” said U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke.

U.S. Representative Dan Donovan said, “With its ironclad privacy protections, I support the City’s efforts to help secure personal information. The cyber threat is constantly evolving, and government, private industry, and users need to have the tools to keep pace.”

“Technology is vital to our continued success and innovation. We have witnessed what happens when our cyber infrastructure and digital security come under attack, from threats at home and abroad," said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. "Cybersecurity is essential to our efforts to protect online networks, voting systems, and even our democracy. I am proud to have supported legislation to authorize more than $1 billion in federal grants to help New York and states replace outdated technology and train employees in cybersecurity to ensure personal private data remains secure."

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "The amount of personal information available and easily stolen from our smart phones - which we are all entirely dependent on - is staggering and requires robust security measures. My State Senate District is home to many of the world’s leading tech companies and I’m proud this groundbreaking initiative is kicking off right here at Civic Hall. I commend Mayor de Blasio for this action to keep New Yorkers' most sensitive data secure.” 

“As New York City continues to grow and become more technology friendly cyber security is one of the many vital aspects that need protection. NYC Secure is a great tool to protect and secure the information of New Yorkers.  No one should have to worry about their information being invaded by hackers. By using this approach the city can help decrease unwanted cyber-attacks and provide a better quality of life for all New Yorkers,” said Assembly Member Clyde Vanel, Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Internet and New Technology

Council Member Koo, Chair of the Committee on Technology said, “Safeguarding the privacy and security of our city’s public Wi-Fi networks is increasingly important as we move toward making it easier and more accessible for all New Yorkers to go online. NYC Secure will allow the public to enjoy the full extent of NYC’s online universe with the confidence that our systems are designed to protect and defend their personal information. Many thanks to Mayor de Blasio for making sure NYC’s Internet is always one step ahead of those who engage in cyber attacks.”

“While the NYPD is focusing on cyber intelligence and counterterrorism threats, the city must do its part to support their efforts by protecting every New Yorker and visitor from potential attacks through their phone or any public WiFi,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “As technology advances, so do the criminals, which is why NYC Secure is critical to the safety of all private citizens. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio, the NYPD and the NYC Cyber Command for all their efforts to keep New York City safe and secure.”

"I am proud to see New York City step into the forefront of cyber security by protecting not only local government and businesses but also residents throughout the five boroughs via a new convenient and free app," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "New York City is the center of the universe and for that reason alone our city and its residents are targets of scams like phishing, ransomware and identity theft. NYC Secure will give New Yorkers a much needed added layer of protection on their mobile devices. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for having the foresight and courage to invest time and resources in this initiative."

“I’m grateful to Mayor de Blasio for launching this innovative initiative,” said Council Member Kalman Yeger. “NYC Secure will provide New Yorkers with an unprecedented free service to protect mobile device users from cyberattacks. With an ever-growing number of New Yorkers who only have internet access through a mobile device, NYC Secure is yet another way the City is stepping up to protect us all.”

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