Technology / Cyber attacks against smart cities ‘could threaten public safety’, IT pros warn

Cyber attacks against smart cities ‘could threaten public safety’, IT pros warn

Nearly nine in ten government IT professionals are concerned about cyber attacks on smart city infrastructure, according to a report.

In a survey by Tripwire, 88 per cent of those working in IT in US state and local government organisations said such incidents posed a threat to public safety.

In addition, 78 per cent of the respondents said they expected a cyber attack against smart grids, transport, CCTV systems and other connected city systems during 2016.

81 per cent are worried attacks on infrastructure could cause physical damage, while 83 per cent are worried about attacks targeting transport systems specifically.

“As we use more and more technology to innovate around the management of cities and their infrastructure, we also create new attack surfaces that can be exploited,” said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy at Tripwire.

“Protecting public infrastructure from cyber and physical attacks is a key consideration in the evolution of smart city technologies. We need to build smart cities with cyber security in mind, not add it as an afterthought.”

Erlin’s thoughts – and the government IT professionals’ concerns – echo those of cyber security experts discussing the Internet of Things at a conference last week.

Speaking at the FT Cyber Security Summit Europe, Huawei’s European cyber security officer David Francis said we are entering “a wonderful period in history” in terms of technology, but warned that security needs to be a key consideration.

“When you build a device, as an industry that threat modelling needs to happen at the start of the process, not the end,” he said. “It needs to be built in, not bolted on.”

He warned that attacks could span further than the connected devices themselves.

An insecure and popular range of connected fridges, for example, could theoretically enable cyber criminals to increase their power consumption all at once and attack the National Grid.

For more on the connected cities survey, see the Tripwire website.

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