New York City is trying to keep you safe beyond the streets to the digital world.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced the launch of NYC Secure, a cybersecurity initiative to better protect New Yorkers online.
This is the city’s first-ever cybersecurity initiative, de Blasio said, and will include a free smartphone app that will debut this summer.
NYC Secure aims to keep New Yorkers safe from cyber threats on their mobile devices, when using public WiFi networks and more. Once residents can download the app, they can also get warnings about “suspicious activity” detected on their phones.
“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,” de Blasio said in a statement.
“New Yorkers manage so much of their lives online, from paying bills to applying for jobs to engaging with government,” he added. “NYC Secure will ensure that we’re applying the best and most effective protection efforts to help New Yorkers defend themselves online.”
The smartphone app portion of the plan is a response, the city said, to a “dramatic increase in the use of mobile phones to connect to the internet.” The average smartphone user spends five hours a day on their phones and these mobile phones now account for upwards of 50 percent of all web traffic.
Though smartphone use is so common, it’s not necessary safe against hacks. One research company estimates that by 2020, 30 percent of all cyberattacks will be mobile-based.
The app hopes to help thwart such attacks, but alerting users of malicious WiFi networks and suggesting they get away from a compromised website and uninstall malicious apps.
The city will also strengthen its own WiFi networks to prevent other networks from downloading ransomware on your device and to prevent people from accessing phishing websites that try to trick you into giving out personal information.
NYC Cyber Command, which leads the city’s own cybersecurity efforts, will be overseeing NYC Secure.