If You Can Secure It Here…
Two years ago, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio signed an Executive Order establishing New York City Cyber Command. It established a Chief Information Security Officer with citywide authority within the Office of the Mayor. The Mayor recognized the need for a centralized approach to cyber defense and the need to create accountability for cybersecurity at the highest levels, and provided New York City Cyber Command with an array of tools to help make that happen.
While it’s a cliché to say New York City is unique, it’s also a reality. As home to 8.6 million people, less than a dozen states serve more residents. We are not only our nation’s largest city but perhaps most iconic, boasting an economy whose gross domestic product is larger than South Korea.
New York City’s Cyber Command understands we need to secure the nation’s largest city from the ever-increasing cyber threat and is rising to the challenge
In 2016 I began working with the city on a three year roadmap and strategy. In a year of foreign election disinformation campaigns, as well as successful attacks against entities from the U.S. Department of Justice to the Ukranian power grid, there are no shortage of serious cyber threats to consider.
When the Executive Order was signed in 2017, it laid out a vision for NYC Cyber Command broad enough to meet the complex and growing threat. It provided us with a mission of not just protecting city systems which deliver critical services that New Yorkers rely on, but helping our residents become safer in their digital lives.
It’s these factors—the enormity of the cyber threat, the ability to help both individuals and one of the world’s premiere cities at scale, the dedication of the Mayor to our mission of reducing everyone’s cyber risk—that drew me to join this office as Deputy Chief Information Security Officer in 2017 when the office was established.
Our Urban Technology unit at Cyber Command is now working to minimize the cybersecurity attack surface across one-hundred-plus agencies and a water system whose infrastructure stretches hundreds of miles. Our unit is working to secure the services New Yorkers have come to depend on: water, calling 9-1-1, and voting.
My team is also standing up an IoT cybersecurity lab, a city-owned and operated lab dedicated to testing the security of connected devices before they are adopted by our agencies. As a result of our lab, we’ve been able to work with device manufacturers and IT service providers to increase the security of their devices. Working to help the private sector build and deliver better devices raises the bar not just New York City, but for everyone.
This is all in addition to our daily support of agencies: bolstering the security of city applications, scanning our networks for vulnerabilities, and upping the game of our first responders and service providers.
But our mission does not end at city agencies. To support our residents, we released NYC Secure to ensure all New Yorkers are protected from online threats. The app is the first of its kind, protecting New Yorkers from unsafe apps, compromised Wi-Fi networks, system tampering and more—all while maintaining residents privacy.
We are also stepping up to support our residents against threats to the foundational freedoms that are under growing threat. New York City Cyber Command is building our capacity to educate the public and thwart disinformation campaigns from both nation-states and radical domestic groups that seek to exclude New Yorkers from free and fair elections and deprive them from an accurate census count in 2020.
Whether it’s due to what the city stands for or a myriad of other factors, we know all too well that we are a target for those who wish us ill. New York City has recognized the need to embrace a new type of resiliency. With the Administration’s commitment to cybersecurity and our office pioneering new approaches, we are creating a new model for how urban areas meet cyber threats.
And this is just the beginning