America still has a long way to go in order to protect itself from cybersecurity threats, a group of security, police and banking experts was told Wednesday.
The recent data breach at Capital One bank, which left 106 million credit applications and files stolen, was an example of the financial sector’s continuing vulnerabilities to hackers and cybersaboteurs, said Linda A. Lacewell, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services
“These are very simple software problems that should have been caught,” Lacewell said at the one-day “Protecting New York Summit.”
Non-traditional cyber-attacks are only going to become more common, added Liat Krawczyk, the assistant vice president for Emerging Tech Initiatives at the New York City Economic Development Corp.
“We can no longer afford to relegate cybersecurity solely to our technical divisions or to our security divisions,” said Krawczyk.
“We need to, at every level, incorporate strategies, protocols and policies that change the behavior around cyber security and that really create a buy-in at every level of society to be more secure.”
Safety from threats must still be balanced with the need to protect freedom of speech, participants were also told.
New York City Council Member Donovan Richards, chairman of the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety, reminded the audience of the importance of not unjustly targeting marginalized communities.
“There is a history when you talk about surveillance in communities of color especially who felt the brunt for many years of the disproportionate surveillance from the [New York Police Department],” Richards said.
“When it comes to free speech, everyone has to be held to the same standard.”
The NYPD has come under sharp attack for its surveillance and monitoring of Muslim communities in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said that although crime in New York is down, more work still needs to be done to make communities safer.
“Unless you feel safe in your neighborhood, unless you feel safe in your subway, we’re not doing our job,” O’Neill said in his remarks at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, where the summit was held.
By standard measurements, New York is now one of America’s safest cities.
As of the end of June, New York City was on track to have the lowest homicide rate since the 1950s, the New York Daily News reported. The city had 135 homicides in the first half of this year, compared to 156 homicides in the first half of 2018.
However, the number of shootings increased from last year.
The first half of 2018 recorded 337 shootings, compared to 361 in the first half of this year.
O’Neill said such figures were an indication that community-policing strategies were still needed to reduce tensions in high-risk neighborhoods.
The NYPD would continue its focus on creating and maintaining relationships with local communities, O’Neill said, noting that a revamped neighborhood policing approach had been in effect since 2015.
“Unless you have police officers that are connected to the people in this great city, unless you have police officers that have excellent communication skills, unless you have police officers that have empathy, all the technology in the world but it’s not going to make the city safer,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill also called for a “holistic” approach to dealing with mental health problems, and emphasized the importance of supporting programs for youth in high-crime areas.
“If you want to make these communities safer, invest in young people, because they want to thrive,” O’Neill said.
Maria Trovato is a TCR news intern.