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NYC Cyber Command Developing NYC Secure to Bring Secure Internet Access to City Residents

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lock via Michael Cory on Flickr

Mayor de Blasio and the newly-established NYC Cyber Command announced a new program called NYC Secure to give New Yorkers tools to protect their information online.

In a press conference, Chief Information Security Officer Geoff Brown outlined the first two objectives of NYC Secure: To develop a mobile app that will detect suspicious behavior on mobile devices, and an upgrade to the city's infrastructure that will protect anyone connecting to the city's free wifi hotspots if they encounter a malicious website.

CISO Brown emphasized that these services are being provided without compromising users' security. These technologies are being deployed as a public service, which gives the city the unique benefit of not needing to profit by selling information that could be gathered by similar "free" services provided by for-profit companies. The city services will operate under strict privacy policies to ensure user privacy.

The mobile app will eventually be available in both the Google and Apple app stores, and will be a free download. As described by CISO Brown, it will notify users when they are connected to malicious wifi hotspots or if apps on their phones are suspected of invading users' privacy. Similar apps are available from other app developers and anti-virus companies, but this will be the first such service provided by a city. The app is not yet available, but CISO Brown indicated that it will be developed by Zimperium.

To protect city-owned wifi hotspots, NYC will partner with non-profit company Quad9 to provide technology that will work behind-the-scenes to block malicious sites before they reach any device on the wifi network. The Quad9 DNS service detects common tricks scammers use and checks sites against a list of sites known to be malicious. This will be installed and configured by city IT professionals, but any home user can also use this free protection by following the instructions on the Quad9 website. Learn more about the system from Global Cyber Alliance, who partnered with IBM and Packet Clearing House to develop Quad9.

No word on whether the security upgrades will apply to LinkNYC kiosks, which are operated by a private company and have been the source of privacy concerns.

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