Published By - Brian Curtis

Understanding Cybersecurity Framework for Smart Cities

Understanding Cybersecurity Framework for Smart Cities

With our life-changing by time and year, there’s a need to build a more modern city that should be far ahead of modern-day construction, enhancing ease of living while providing the best possible transportation, emergency services, and next-level security.

Before Moving Ahead, Let’s Look at Some Key Features of a Smart City

  • State of the art infrastructure, including parks and well-maintained roads.
  • Adequate water, Gas and Electricity supply
  • Public information systems should be present.
  • Presence of proper waste, energy management, and skill development centers.
  • A centralized center to manage things like emergency services, CCTV surveillance, and more.

What are the Challenges to Cybersecurity Framework for Smart Cities?

Every city faces challenges similar or different compared to each other. These challenges arise due to problems in governance and other reasons. In a smart city, the challenges differ from a normal city. The smart cities are often plagued by cybercrime, which can be related to any virtual intrusion done into the security and maintenance systems of the city.

The concept of developing a cybersecurity framework in a smart city is new and is evolving with the rise of such smart concepts, which are based on technology, invention, and innovation.

But, when all things are connected with a server in a smart city that is mostly centralized, the risk of a cyber-attack is that much more potent.

Majorly, the system which is present within a smart city consisting of sensors, CCTV, meters can be hacked by cybercriminals easily, and they can misuse it. This can lead to faulty transportation, electricity and water supply services to the houses and offices present within the perimeter of the smart city.

If hacked, the presence of a personnel who can take care of such things is very less, which can thereby lead to chaos in the city.

The manufacturers and vendors which make and supply such sensors and other equipments in a smart city project are unaware of such cyber practices that are done by the hackers.

If the hacker can get into the system of any organization present in the city, he may steal the data and ask for ransom. Such Ransomware cases are very common nowadays around the world, making it an easy way for the hackers to earn a lot of money.

If a cyber-attack happens on the central server of the smart city, then it can create many loopholes in the system due to which more attacks are possible in the future. Citizens’ data is also present in such systems.

Attacks can also happen if the security measures are not properly taken. All centralized devices, whether small or large, should come under the security of the city.

Some of the Cyberattacks which took place at large scale:

  • Power Grid attack in Ukraine – Nearly half a million people were affected by this.
  • Ransomware attack on San Francisco Railway.
  • Water system attack in Kemuri.
  • Hackers attacked alarms leading to a false emergency siren which created unnecessary panic in Dallas.
  • Traffic affected in Sweden due to the attack on the Traffic monitoring system.

These cyber-attacks are proof that smart cities around the world are prone to such cyber-attacks, and hackers can cause massive destruction, which can affect the entire city.

The hackers can misuse all the services which are connected to internet services within the city.

Attackers are very clever; they know where to attack and at what time. They keep on searching loopholes that are there in every smart city due to a lack of cryptographic measures taken by management and builders. This poor management and installation of non-secured devices across the city can make them vulnerable to the attacks.

Main Steps to Develop a Cybersecurity Framework:

Smart city developers should consider developing cybersecurity strategies that can overcome the challenges faced by other cities, and these strategies are made keeping in mind the cyber-attacks to which the city is vulnerable.

The data present at the centralized data center in the city should be encrypted in such a way that it asks for two-way authentication if someone tries to access it.

Policies should be drafted, keeping in mind the security measures and the minimum quality standards for the sensors and other devices that are being installed in the smart city.

The cyber assets of the city should be assessed and a proper cybersecurity plan should be made.

The smart city also needs a cyber data governance approach towards all the technological components present on the premises. This can be done by connecting to similar cities and other cybersecurity agencies. Policies and technology should be aligned so that they can work in accordance.

The management of the smart cities should also keep in mind some of the handy tricks that can protect them in case of a cyber-attack. This includes:

  • Developing a backup plan which can be used in case of an emergency.
  • Feedback sessions with the residents of the city to ensure smart and smooth functioning of the city.
  • Developing strategies and other important policies regarding passwords.
  • The city network can be encrypted with complex algorithms
  • Devices which run on Wi-Fi technology can be secured by setting up WPA2 protocol
  • A firewall is a must for protecting a system. It should be applied at every place where the transaction is going to happen.
  • Always create an alert, if in case some breach has happened.
  • Providing training to the developers present in the cybersecurity team within the city.
  • Get approval by the cybersecurity agency or an organization approved by the government before setting up cybersecurity codes and devices which run on it.
  • Define rules for everyone and make everyone aware of the cybercrimes.

Conclusion:

Cyber-attacks can happen any time, but in the coming future, let say 5 to 10 years from now, we will be able to see a city free of such crimes. The city will be mature enough to handle complex technologies that might be secured by various things.

As of now, the setup cost of devices present in a smart city is high due to which many developers use cheap quality devices and ignore the vulnerability. A good security platform is what is needed to keep such cities safe.

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