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NYC will launch its own security-conscious app this summer

It's also protecting its public WiFi with an additional layer of security.
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New Yorkers will have another security app to consider installing on their devices this summer -- a city-sponsored one. The office of Mayor de Blasio has announced that it's releasing its own free smartphone protection app to residents as part of NYC Secure, the city's first cybersecurity initiative. "New Yorkers manage so much of their lives online, from paying bills to applying for jobs to engaging with government," the mayor said in a statement. "NYC Secure will ensure that we're applying the best and most effective protection efforts to help New Yorkers defend themselves online."

The mayor's announcement says the app will protect phones by detecting malware and warning users of its presence. It will then recommend steps users can take to protect themselves and their phones, such as disconnecting from a WiFi connection that it has detected as malicious, navigating away from a compromised website or uninstalling an app it says is loaded with malware.

Since de Blasio knows people have become more cautious of government-sponsored anything now that they're more aware of the extent of government surveillance projects, his announcement clarifies that the app won't take actions by itself. He says it will operate under a strict privacy policy and has the technology to ensure that it works even without access to personally identifiable information. The mayor's office also says that the application will not collect data or transmit it to a remote server from people's devices. Those who still can't fully trust it, though, can always skip it and continue using security apps of their own choosing.

In addition to releasing an app this summer, NYC is also boosting its public WiFi connections' security measures. This extra layer of security can apparently prevent people connected to it from downloading malicious software and from accessing phishing websites. According to the mayor's office, it also has the power to do its job without using or storing personally identifiable info, just like the NYC Secure app. The city has already rolled out that extra layer to 18 NYC agencies' private networks, and it intends to deploy it across all government agencies and public WiFi providers before the year ends.

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