Smart Cities imply the implementation of digital technology to improve the quality of life of a city’s inhabitants. The purpose of these cities is to solve some of the problems that are expected to emerge in the cities of the future, fostering a better and more sustainable resource management, among other advantages. However, it will be vital to take smart security measures to guarantee that these improvements are not compromised or threatened.

A Smart City is characterized by the interconnection among its various actors and infrastructures, which exchange and analyze data to introduce improvements in the management of resources to the benefit of the population. The access to this information (which, in many cases, will be critical for the functioning of the city, such as electricity or water supply) can be potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks. It is for this reason that it is essential for the city’s infrastructure to include Smart City security and IoT security protocols.

Security problems in Smart Cities

The World Economic Forum lists the risk of cyberattacks as the fifth global threat in its 2020 Global Risks Report. In this category, it includes anything from data theft to ransomware attacks, all the way to the control of large-scale systems which causes major damages. This report further states that the risks are higher for those technologies that extend to the physical world, where hybrid digital-physical systems exist, as is the case of Smart Cities.

These attacks do not imply serious consequences for a city’s users, but also significant economic costs: the IBM IT company calculates that the average cost of a data leak is in the ballpark of 3.92 million dollars, an expense that could inflict serious problems to any city.

Smart City security is therefore one of the priorities when implementing this new city model. What’s more, it is precisely the interconnectivity that characterizes Smart Cities what multiplies the risks that a city exposes itself to if it does not proactively implement smart security programs.

Each connection point between different systems can therefore become a vulnerable spot that could be successfully attacked. If an attack were to take place, the vulnerabilities could escalate up to the hijacking of essential systems for the functioning of a city. A cyberattack targeted at the public lighting control system in the city could therefore extend to the hijacking of servers and, even further, to sensitive personal citizen information.

The consequences would therefore by grim, interrupting the functioning of a Smart City, with traffic, communication, water supply and energy problems, among others. The main consequences of a failure in smart security can be summarized as follows:

Data Theft

The first consequence of a lack of protection can materialize as the theft of personal information. Smart Cities use information of their inhabitants to facilitate many processes: from paperwork to resource allocation. If a cyberattack takes place, the attacker might get a hold of private information from a large number of citizens, which could then be used in fraudulent practices.

Infrastructure hijack or denial

In addition, IoT security, and that which pertains to Smart Cities, can also be compromised by cyberattacks that attempt to hijack certain infrastructures, accessing them via security breaches. It may also happen that the purpose of the attack could be the denial of certain systems.

This would imply that the attacker could decide how or when to use certain infrastructures, or simply shut them down. The latter case could be the result of Man-in-the-middle (MitM) or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

Smart security solutions

According to the Gartner consulting company, in its ‘Hype Cycle for Smart City Technologies and Solutions’ study, smart security solutions are among the most used and sought-after technologies in the context of Smart Cities. Some of them include:

Data encryption

Encrypting data means altering them to the point of concealing their meaning. This way, only those who have the right code or password can devise their meaning. It is therefore a vital solution to generate a Smart City security model.

This guarantees the privacy of personal information shared by the city’s inhabitants. Some protocols that might also apply include the synchronization of access modes and the prevention of security blinds spots.

This, in turn, should be achieved by generating protocols around Internet of Things security, so that users have clear guidelines regarding how to safeguard their security and that of the systems.

Security monitoring

Security monitoring consists of generating systems that are capable of analyzing the data that they are receiving, so that they can detect if there are indicators of compromise (IOC). These consist of data that identifies possible risks or threats in relation to a system. In case they are detected, security measures should be automatically implemented to prevent the damage from spreading.

Perform attack simulations

Attack simulations consist of using an external agency to test the security of a system. In this way, possible security breaches and preventions issues are identified, allowing for measures to be taken to solve them.

All of the above implies that smart security will be critical and must be integrated as an integral part of the Smart City implementation strategy, never as something secondary. As a result, working with Secure by Design protocols is vital – in other words, developing systems with security as a design pillar. A Secure by Design model has been created with security standards as part of its strategy, guaranteeing that information remains protected.

To develop a Secure by Design system, there are at least 3 steps that every Smart City should take into account:

  • Everyone that is involved with the system (from the manufacturer to the users) must know the existing security protocols and how to implement them. To accomplish this, a clear security model to follow in case of attack must be developed.
  • Make an informed decision regarding the technologies to be used, taking into account how they guarantee security. Furthermore, the right personnel must be hired, and all interested parties at every level must take part, and be aware, of the importance of security.
  • Constant monitoring and search for increasingly novel and more secure solutions.

Nexus Integra, the Smart City security platform

Nexus Integra is a platform for the integrated management of all city services under a single system. At Nexus Integra we are getting certified in the national security scheme (ENS) to ensure the protection of our users’ data – in particular, the confidentiality of data contained in files, system and applications of Public Administrations, so as to achieve the most secure smart cities and prevent them from being the target of any cyberattack.

Using this software, it is possible to integrate solutions related to water management, Wi-Fi, energy management, environment, infrastructure, habitability and urban mobility, governance, social innovation, economy and business into a single platform.

Nexus Integra generates the centralization of all data in addition to application interoperability, enabling the monitoring of all key performance indicators of the city in a shared view.

Furthermore, the platform includes smart security protocols, such as the prediction of management actions, as well as the management and control of all kinds of alarms.

Do you want to know more about how to implement Nexus Integra and its benefits for Smart City security? Get in touch with us so that we can find a personalized solution.