NYC to launch free cybersecurity tools for residents

NYC to launch free cybersecurity tools for residents
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New York City will boost its residents' internet security by rolling out two free cybersecurity tools, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

The NYC Secure program will cost the city about $5 million per year as it works to protect New Yorkers from facing malicious cyber activity online.

“New Yorkers aren’t safe online. And we cannot wait around for other levels of government to do something about it or the private sector to do something about it because we will be waiting a long time if we do that,” de Blasio said at a news conference.

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The mayor warned that hackers could steal private data such as bank account details or information about someone's identity that can then "be weaponized and turned against us." 

“It’s our job in government to make sure that people are safe online. This is a new reality and we are taking the first steps into that reality,” he continued, adding that he hopes other cities follow suit. 

New York City residents can download a smartphone app that will alert users when it detects suspicious activity on their devices.

“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,” according to a press release accompanying the announcement.

On a broader scale, de Blasio said agencies throughout the city will step up security for public Wi-Fi networks so that users tapping into the open internet systems will also be protected from hackers. 

The city will use a tool known as Quad9, which filters through a user's web traffic in order to block dangerous sites, links and emails with built-in malware.

The announcement comes after two U.S. cities faced cyberattacks in recent weeks.

Baltimore’s emergency dispatch system faced a cyberattack over the weekend that caused officials to temporarily shutdown the automated program, while emergency calls were handled manually.

Atlanta also recently faced a ransomware attack earlier this month that affected a wide range of city services, from bill collection operations to airport Wi-Fi networks.

“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,” Geoff Brown, the head of New York City Cyber Command, said in a statement. “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.”