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Smart cities demand smart cyber resilience

The amount of data we generate and store is growing constantly in size and complexity. As the global population increases and technology continues to change the way we live and work connected devices, will, for example, generate increasing amounts of data. From Amazon’s Alexa telling you the weather as you dress in the morning, to connected cars that inform drivers of parking space availability, our lives are being transformed by the data we generate. 

The aim is that society benefits from the Internet of Things 

Governments from Santiago to Seoul are keen to offer their citizens more efficient data driven services through smart technology, Internet of Things (IoT) and Operational Technology (OT). Rapid technological development has given rise to a host of new ‘smart city’ solutions to solving big urban challenges including pollution, traffic congestion and crowding. What unites these new smart city solutions is the degree to which each relies on a network of connected technologies. 

But mitigating security risks is tough 

Clearly, developing these networks with the right security considerations top of mind is imperative, if they are to be useful and efficient. The challenge is that securing smart technology, IoT and OT is no easy task and often these technologies receive different treatment to securing traditional IT assets and infrastructure. There are also cultural and organisational issues that play a role in de-prioritising the security focus for these new connected networks. 

What can be done to develop cyber resilience in connected devices? 

So the question for those who want to offer security as part of the service is: how can you understand where the vulnerabilities lie, and then defend against them?  

Ultimately these technologies need to be as resilient as any other technology and data asset, if not more. Given the increasing need to be resilient against cyber-attacks, a focused and robust approach to building cyber resilience in smart cities needs to move up the agenda of organisations and governments around the globe.  

We have identified three key steps to deliver effective cyber resilience: 

  • Understand the threats
  • Protect your assets
  • Know how to respond to attack. 

Critically, these steps, and the testing to support them, need to be taken prior to attack. This is where many organisations fall short currently, as cyber security continues to be an afterthought to service delivery and technology functionality. 

And there is a tool that can 

Current market analysis shows us that organisations and governments are struggling to find the relevant tools to develop live testing environments to build cyber resilience in these systems. To bridge this gap and support industry, we built a unique tool to develop cyber resilience across these technologies: the ICS Demonstrator. The ICS Demonstrator uses real life technology and networks to provide live demonstrations of potential cyber-attacks and allows for the testing of a range of defence approaches. In addition, demonstrating vulnerabilities in these technologies is also a great way of prioritising the need for implementing further security measures.  

Cities of tomorrow will no doubt be smarter than today. But smartness isn’t just a measure of technological prowess. Rather, it includes, to a big extent, how prepared and resilient these cities are against the very real threat of cyber-attack. A city that gets both the technology and the safeguards right, is a truly smart one.  

Contact the author

Contact the digital trust and cyber security team

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