Smart city cyber-attack extremely likely, IT professionals fear

A cyber-attack against smart city infrastructure is extremely likely in the near future, according to IT professionals.

In a survey by US-based cyber-security firm Tripwire, 78 per cent of the 200 state and local government IT professionals questioned said they expect a cyber-attack against smart city services to take place by the end of 2016. Such an attack could disable the cities’ smart grids, transportation systems, surveillance cameras or wastewater treatment facilities.

“While smart cities offer great efficiencies for their citizens, the same internet connectivity that enables these efficiencies can be used to deliver physical damage to infrastructure and also cause loss of life if accessed by malicious actors,” said Rekha Shenoy, vice president and general manager of industrial cyber security for Belden, Tripwire’s parent company.

An overwhelming 88 per cent of the survey’s respondents said damage to critical city infrastructure in such an attack would be extremely likely. Only 3 per cent of the survey’s respondents were confident a cyber-attack against smart city infrastructure is unlikely to happen this year.

“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 for 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.”

The global smart city technology market is growing. According to market research and consultancy firm Navigant Research, the sector’s revenues will reach $36.8bn (£28.35bn) in 2016. Despite the sector’s growing profitability, many cyber security experts are concerned that smart city technologies are being adopted faster than the technology needed to protect them.



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