LA County Launches App to Protect Commuters Surfing Public Wi-Fi From Cybercriminals


Before the Internet, pickpockets deftly slipped wallets – stealing money and identities – out of mild distraction and distraction. Nowadays, it’s a little more low-key. Cybercriminals do the same by positioning themselves at a distance between unsuspecting commuters browsing social media sites and public Wi-Fi networks.

But just as criminal methods have gone digital in the 21st century, just like the defense mechanisms. An app developed by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the City of Los Angeles, for example, helps protect subway riders from growing cybersecurity threats without an increased police presence.

The free application, “LA Secure” is available on the Apple iOS and Android platforms and alerts browsers to cyber threats, such as someone trying to access their device, in real time, offering information on what to do next. these threats.

“Providing a safe and secure environment for Los Angeles County’s 10 million people to live and work is becoming just as important online as it has always been offline,” said Hilda Solis, chair of the Metro Board of authority in a press release. “As LA County continues to expand public Wi-Fi access, including across its entire Metro bus fleet, LA Secure offers cutting-edge technology to ensure that whatever activity they conduct on their mobile devices remain safe, private and secure. “

The development of the app is part of a larger effort by the transport authority to improve and protect the customer experience, according to a brief on the initiative. Other advancements include one that constantly validates web connections established through mobile devices, allowing users to shop safely online, complete work, use social media, check buses, or connecting trains and to contact their relatives in an emergency.

Notably, all of LA County’s more than 2,300 transit buses offer free public Wi-Fi to commuters and passengers.

Given the prevalence of accessible Wi-Fi on public transportation, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said local and county governments have “a responsibility to protect residents in the physical and digital realms, and that” is a responsibility we take very seriously ”.

Beyond the borders of Los Angeles, the brief notes that cybercriminals are increasingly targeting mobile devices everywhere “because they don’t yet have the protection available on most desktops or laptops.” New and evolving threats require patches and updates to mobile operating systems that many users do not install systematically. And in some cases, the hardware limitations on outdated devices can prevent any future updates, leaving them perpetually vulnerable. “

At the same time, in part because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are relying on their mobile devices on a daily basis. Today, almost half of all web traffic in the United States comes from mobile devices. There is also an equity component that is behind the initiative in LA

“We see LA Secure as another opportunity to provide better access and greater fairness to our transit customers, many of whom are low-income, do not have their own access to Internet services and are heavily dependent on services. Public Wi-Fi, ”said Stephanie Wiggins. , CEO of Metro. “We believe that everyone deserves to have a secure online experience on our system and we look forward to promoting the privacy protections available through this important program.”

LA Secure was developed by Zimperium, a mobile security and protection company, and is available for download from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.


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