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Cybersecurity tailored to MSMEs - case of New York City

As the 240,000 New York City-based small and midsize businesses have migrated online and collected more data, they have also faced cyberattacks they are ill-prepared to handle. Traditionally, cybersecurity companies have targeted and priced cybersecurity tools to large businesses with strong budgets and in-house IT capabilities. A survey revealed that 85 percent of MSMEs ranked cybersecurity as very important to their business and 76 percent wanted to learn about affordable cybersecurity solutions.

In response to the gap in cybersecurity services for MSMEs, the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO), NYC Cyber Command, and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) launched in 2018 the “Cybersecurity Moonshot Challenge” to encourage the private sector to develop and deliver affordable and scalable cybersecurity solutions tailored to MSMEs. The challenge formed part of the Cyber NYC initiative, a $100 million public-private investment vehicle, with Jerusalem Venture Partners and global partners from Israel, Japan, South Korea, and cities like Singapore, Berlin, Helsinki, London, and Paris, aimed to transform New York City into a global leader of cybersecurity innovation and talent.

The Moonshot Challenge offered finalists up to $20,000 to test their proposal in New York City; over $1 million investment was awarded to selected proposals. The City received 169 applications from 77 cities and 18 countries; the 18 finalists were specialized in cloud security, penetration testing, user authentication, and the security of online devices.

The winners were announced in October 2019. The winner was SKOUT CYBERSECURITY; Inky and Paladin also topped the list. The organizers published recommended security standards and best practices for MSME cyber resiliency, and partnered with the Department of NYC Small Business Services to launch a Cybersecurity training for small and mid-size businesses in New York City.

The cybersecurity challenge is the latest that the city has offered up to innovative companies, following competitions focused on 5G wireless communications and electric vehicles.

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