Cyberattacks against smart city services may pose public safety threat

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Tripwire, Inc., the global provider of security and compliance solutions for enterprises and industrial organisations, has announced the results of a survey conducted on behalf of Tripwire by Dimensional Research.

The June survey assessed cyber security challenges associated with smart city technologies. Survey respondents included over 200 IT professionals working for state and local governments.

When asked if a cyber attack targeting critical city infrastructure posed a threat to public safety, eighty-eight percent of the respondents said, "yes." In addition, seventy-eight percent of the respondents stated there would likely be a cyber attack against smart city services in 2016.

Smart cities use IT solutions to manage a wide range of city services, including smart grids, transportation, surveillance cameras, wastewater treatment and more. Navigant Research anticipates that global smart city technology revenue will reach $36.8 billion in 2016. Despite growing profitability in the sector, many cyber security experts are wary that smart city technologies are being adopted faster than the technology needed to protect them.

"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.

Additional findings from the survey included:

  • Eighty-one percent of the respondents believe a cyber attack targeting critical city infrastructure could cause physical damage.
  • Eighty-three percent of the respondents are worried about cyber attacks that target smart city transportation initiatives.
  • Only three percent of the respondents believed there would not be a cyber attack against smart city services 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."

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