Cybersecurity in smart cities is one of the biggest, if not ‘the biggest’ challenge for upcoming smart cities in the world. By 2050, about 66% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities. Cybersecurity is a prerequisite for all smart cities in existence, development or in plans of development. This means ensuring that all 9 yards for security are well thought through and executed. Everything from having a Quick reaction plan or force, a backup facility, cloud management and even manual overrides.

Smart cities must adjust and adapt to the requirements and complexities of the new cybersecurity landscape. Let’s take a look at the new cybersecurity landscape we would all be dealing with:

Realities of Cybersecurity in Smart Cities

#1. Wider attack surface:

With the introduction of new web and mobile apps, IoT, connected homes, connected cars and even connected logistics, it’s going to be a crazy mayhem of data flying all over the place. To put it in simpler words, everything is hackable. So where do you start? When you put more things on the line, you are literally putting more at stake. It’s like when you colonize multiple landmasses, you are exposing a larger surface for yourself to be attacked from different angles. So not only is there a need to grow a team but to have the right knowledge and expertise is an absolute must! A key added bonus would be to understand IoT security and ensure that that the most intricate of data is well protected. 

#2. Hackers have more to be motivated with:

As the ‘internet of things’ starts to connect more and more things in our daily lives, we’re going to see a trend of excessive financial transactions and data passing on to the internet. I think that it goes without saying that the goldmine of billions and billions of dollars opens up to a whole new set of hackers. So all we can do is, be prepared to experience and anticipate some new and innovative ways of being attacked.  

“There are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be. And even they are converging into one category: companies that have been hacked and will be hacked again.”  – Robert S Mueller

#3. Panic:

Even today, when the world has not seen the full potential of the connected world, customers are reluctant to give out their information to businesses and in cases where they do, it very often under the misconception that businesses keep their information well protected. Imagine a world where your private data was accessible to just about everyone, the government, your local grocer, your friends and worst of all, to the several hackers out there. It is so scary to think that new phobias are created that describes the fear of constantly being watched by the internet. With all the interconnectivity, smart cities take it one step ahead by giving people the fear of always being controlled by a superior entity. One can only imagine the path it paves for all the chaos and pandemonium when smart cities fully come into existence.

#4. Lack of skill to get the job done:

It is pretty obvious that even the dark side has immense firepower (like in the movie Die Hard 4). Die-hard 4 gives us a glimpse into the world of chaos, cyberwar can put us in. Even though in the end, the good guys win, there is far too much damage that has been done and I’m still not sure how many businesses would take that over investing in good cybersecurity measures. Besides, even though there were ethical hackers called into action, the reality is that it is far too difficult to trace someone who’s literally invisible.

There are two basic problems here in today’s world, either businesses are too ignorant or there is just not enough people with the right expertise or skills to help safeguard complex cybersecurity landscapes. One can only imagine what it would be like when smart cities have fully come into existence.

#5. Lack of foresight intelligence:

Cybersecurity is a game of intelligence and know-how. It certainly is not a game of astrology. No one anticipated the heinous cybercrimes that would be committed in this day and age we live in, a few years ago despite all the preparedness in security. No one can certainly predict what will happen in the future. A huge worry is that despite security measures and laws being ramped up, the motivation to attack is on an all-new high. So being proactive about security is a good start but it’s sad to say, that the fear of being attacked and the unprophesized form it will come in, will always be there no matter what.

#6. Can’t keep up with the demands of agility:

Consumer demands have shifted since the beginning of time. We live in an era where instantaneity is a must have for comprehensive business advantage. Everything revolves around agilitye but the truth is ‘agility is not really agile’. Cybersecurity should evolve on an everyday basis and that’s something businesses still need to come to a grip with. Testing security once and running business under the false impression that it is secure, is one of the worst mistakes we could make. In fact, security should be incorporated right from the development stages and monitored on a timely and better still, a daily basis. Agility is going to play a huge role in helping keep smart cities properly sanitized from cyber threats.

71% of local governments say IoT saves them money but 86% say they have already experienced an IoT-related security breach. – Gadi Mergi, CTO at Israel’s National Cyber Directorate

A lot of experts may argue that these are basic points that go into the construction of a smart city plan but the answer to that is pretty simple. If it was or even is, evidence of a safer cybersecurity eco-system would speak for itself. We wouldn’t be hacked like the way we are or we wouldn’t live in the fear of being controlled in the future. They say the best defense is an offense and if you are unsure where to get started on, like we mentioned before, get your basics right!. Everything from having a fully automated security testing system, a quick reaction plan or force, a backup facility, cloud management, multiple manual overrides, push for tougher cybersecurity laws and most importantly raise public awareness.