Cybersecurity in smart cities: lack of funding increases vulnerabilities

cybersecurity in smart cities
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New research has found that, while smart city technologies are growing worldwide, investment in cybersecurity in smart cities is dangerously low.

The ‘Smart City Cybersecurity’ report, produced by technology market data analysis firm ABI Research, examines the increased uptake of smart city developments to meet the demands of urbanisation. Projections for public spending on cybersecurity in smart cities detailed in the report predict that, of the total $135bn (€121,63bn) projected spending on critical infrastructure cybersecurity protections worldwide by 2024, around 56% will be allocated to the defence, technology and financial sectors. The remaining 44% will then have to be divided between the energy, healthcare, public security, water, sanitation and transport sectors; meaning protections for each of these fields will be left ‘woefully underfunded’ – particularly because, as cities adopt more technological solutions to municipal challenges, the number of ways in which they can be vulnerable to outside interference multiply.

Dimitrios Pavlakis, Industry Analyst at ABI Research, said: “Smart cities are increasingly under attack by a variety of threats. These include sophisticated cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, bringing industrial control systems (ICS) to a grinding halt, abusing low-power wide area networks (LPWAN) and device communication hijacking, system lockdown threats caused by ransomware, manipulation of sensor data to cause widespread panic (e.g., disaster detection systems) and siphoning citizen, healthcare, consumer data and personally identifiable information (PII), among many others. In this increasingly connected technological landscape, every smart city service is as secure as its weakest link.”

Pavlakis added: “Lack of cryptographic measures, poor encryption key management, nonexistent secure device onboarding services, weaponised machine learning technologies by cyber-attackers, poor understanding of social engineering, and lack of protection versus Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are just are some of the key issues contributing to the amplification of cyber-threats in smart city ecosystems. This is further exacerbated by the lack of digital security investments and will, unfortunately, jeopardise the key elements of intelligence, efficiency and sustainability of future smart city deployments.”

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