What is the Risk?

Every facet of life in the City – from the delivery of water and electricity, to transportation, life safety, and emergency response – has become deeply reliant on technology. As such, its protection is paramount.

Although the threats here are similar in nature to those faced anticipated by other municipalities, New York City has several unique factors that affect how it mitigates the evolving risks.

Cyber-attacks can affect New York City in a number of ways. Stolen personal information may destroy the financial standing of an individual. Additionally, cyber incidents can damage public trust in the institutions that were once considered stable and secure. Cyber-attacks may also create fear and erode the public trust needed for private and public services to run successfully.

A cyber incident can have wide-ranging effects on public and private infrastructure if industries related to utilities, health care, transportation, social services, and telecommunications are targeted.

If services are disrupted by attacks, cyber incidents can cause damage to physical assets. In many cases, attacks on these systems are initially undetectable, and it may be some time before it is known that system impairment or failure is the result of a cyber-event.

While effects of cyber threats on the natural environment would be unlikely, they are conceivable. As with the built environment, the effects on the natural environment may come from a system failure that, for example, causes the release of hazardous materials or improper disposal of waste.

New York City’s vulnerability to cyber-attacks may change significantly in the future as technology evolves and online services and functions increase.

Security measures will continue to improve, but may not keep pace with cyber threat capabilities. New York City agencies and organizations should place emphasis on deploying preventive security measures, where feasible.