With the increasing number of people moving from rural to urban areas, Smart cities have become the main attraction for many. The concept of Smart cities began between 1960 and 1970, but countries started prioritizing this idea in 2010. Yokohama, Japan, was the first city to be designated as a smart city demonstrator in 2010, two years later, Barcelona introduced data-driven urban services, such as public transportation, waste management, and street lighting,
Cities are becoming more technologically empowered, and in order to capture opportunities and generate long-term success, they must become smarter. Unfortunately, cities that take this step neglect an important factor for a successful evolvement, and that is to have a secure and solid cybersecurity infrastructure. The technology used to power these Smart cities are built on the internet, making them an enticing target for attackers. The leaders of smart cities have to consider the impact and capabilities of these cybercriminals and set the right protocols.
With that in mind, what are the 4 major cyberthreats Smart cities face?
4 Major Cyberthreats against Smart cities:
IBM defines a Smart city as one that makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available today to better understand and control its operations and optimize the use of limited resources. These cities use the Internet of Things (IoT) along with a range of software, user interfaces, and communication networks to provide connected solutions for the general public, but this comes with vulnerabilities, which are:
– DDoS attacks: IoT sensors are used in urban areas to collect data from various devices, inhabitants, and assets to assess and monitor things like traffic, utility usage, parking, public data, and other things. Smart cities can use big data and improve services as a result, but cybercriminals can simply exploit IoT devices that aren’t secure and disrupt servers resulting in a delay of services for legitimate users. In the case of DDoS attacks, due to the attack being generated from multiple sources, it is difficult to stop it by just blocking a single source. And recently, a newly found malware, called Mirai, is being used to scan for unsecured IoT devices with default passwords to disrupt a smart city’s system. The Mirai malware’s objective is to turn these unsecured devices into botnets to launch DDoS attacks. Finland is one of the victims of this when an attack was made on their heating system leaving citizens freezing in the middle of winter for a whole week. In some cases, these criminals could launch an attack that severely destroys the device causing the hardware to be damaged. This is known as PDoS, Permanent denial-of-service. Device authentication, data encryption, and security monitoring is the best way to protect IoT devices and networks against these attacks.
-Device Hijacking: When a device is hijacked It means that the attacker has now enabled themselves control of the device and will use it to interrupt a system by exploiting its security flaws. Usually, the criminals don’t change the device’s essential functionality, making these attacks difficult to detect. This typically leads to a ransomware attack. If an attacker gains access to the network, he can simply compromise all of the devices and systems on it. Researchers at UC Berkley revealed that emergency alerts, street video surveillance, and smart traffic signals were found to be the most vulnerable to hijacking. This proves the need to take the necessary security measures for a safe cyber environment.
-Ransomware: Hackers can compromise a system or disclose sensitive information on the Dark web if specific demands are not met. And when the victims are cornered into paying the ransom, they become prime extortion targets. Ransomware attacks have the potential to wipe out an entire smart city’s infrastructure, It also can lockdown slow down the systems. Sensitive information must be kept private and protected against unauthorized access. This could include the deployment of firewalls or data anonymization. Unfortunately, cybercrime costs the world billions of dollars every year these cybercriminals are well-organized and have a plethora of resources at their disposal.
-Man-In-The-Middle attacks: This type of attack breaches communication between two systems enabling the hacker to cause mayhem by providing false information. In some cases, the attacker could install malware to slow down the system operations. In this case citizen’s privacy will be jeopardized affecting the trust made between the city and its people. With the help of a security management team, this could be prevented.
Smart cities now have a large assault surface that is wide open to attacks. This is a very real and present risk. The more technology a city employs, the more vulnerable it is to cyber-attacks, making the smartest cities the ideal targets. Smart Cities are expected to create 20 trillion dollars in economic benefits by 2026 but attacks on the city’s services and infrastructure are simply a matter of time. At any moment, it may happen. This is why they must take immediate action to improve their security and protect themselves against these cyberattacks, it is irresponsible not to do so.
A Smart city must have a smart cyber infrastructure!
Share this article:
A shared scenario between many is being in public with a dying mobile device, franticly looking for a charger. When coincidently you find a free charging station calling out your name. You find a solution, but have you ever thought about the risks of using these public charging stations? The accessibility of these public USB charging stations is convenient but connecting your device to one can put you in a vulnerable position. With just plugging in your smartphone or laptop, you’re potentially opening up an opportunity for a threat actor to steal data or install malware all without your knowledge. This is known as Juice Jacking. Unfortunately, many are unaware ...2nd Jan 2022
Have you ever received an email wondering if it is legitimate or not, but then decide to click on it because the advertisement or the urgent warning catches your eye? Well, many have been in that situation with some consequently becoming victims to a phishing trap. Around 96% of phishing attempts are deployed via email and 74% of organizations suffered from a successful phishing attack (Proofpoint state of the Phish report 2021). These numbers will continue to rise if we don’t educate ourselves on phishing emails. Over time, cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and are in constant search of new ways to seamlessly trick their victims. Sometimes, even the ...12th Dec 2021
With mobile phones becoming an integral part of our daily life and with many shifting from desktops to mobile devices as their main way of computing, cybercriminals are following along. Unfortunately, the threats posed by mobile malware are evolving and becoming more sophisticated than ever, making them one of the rising cyber threats at this time. Cybercriminals are in constant search of sensitive data, and when such data is detected on a device, they will try their best to gain access through the device’s security flaws. Unfortunately, many do not educate themselves about the risks of having unsecure mobile devices ...2nd Nov 2021
With technology evolving day by day, new developments are being made to align with today’s fast-paced society and especially with remote work culture where we don’t meet people as often as we used to. Any business or organization must take this into consideration to keep up with the current trends. One of the notable evolvements that occurred is the means of communication. The way we communicate with one another changes as technology evolves. Calls, formerly, were the most common way for businesses to communicate with their customers, however, it has been revealed that 87% of the 97% of customers who reject calls from businesses, ...1st Sep 2021
The healthcare industry is known for being one of the primary targets for cybercriminals, and by 2020 it was ranked as the seventh most attacked sector. Unfortunately, hospitals, clinics, and medical laboratories have experienced a rise in these attacks in the last two years. And with the recent pandemic, cybercriminals took advantage of this event and launched many of their destructive plans. These attacks are mainly motivated by financial gain. They either sell the stolen data or request ransom money from their victims to enable them back access to their data. For instance, at the end of 2020, a major ...1st Aug 2021
Introduction The history of bio-metrics used as an authentication tool dates to the 1800s. It was first used by the French to identify criminals through their fingerprints, which later the English police commissioner, Edward Henry, developed HCS “Henry Classification System”. It was a system that relied on fingerprints to identify people who have been prosecuted, it was a prime way of classification used by the police during the 20th century. As the years continued, new biological traits started being used in bio-metric authentication which in result are replacing traditional methods of authentication. Any invention introduced in the cyber world ...30th Jun 2021
Since the beginning of 2020 due to COVID-19 people have been social distancing and staying indoors as much as possible. Due to that the use of the Internet, E-commerce sites, and E-government operations have increased immensely and so have the attempts at phishing attacks. His Excellency Dr. Khaled bin Abdullah Al-Sabti, Governor of the Cybersecurity Authority, spoke during the opening of the Global Cybersecurity Conference on April 7th, 2021, about the high increase in phishing sites by about 300% and the importance of being aware. Below (Figure A-1 & A-2) we can see two different examples of Smishing Attacks during ...31st May 2021
Cyber-attacks come in a variety of formats and with the advancement of technology it continues to improve. Phishing is a common type of cyber-attack used by cyber criminals, and according to Proofpoint’s threat report, 75% of organizations experienced a Phishing attack in 2020 (Proofpoint 2021 state of the Phish report). Cyber criminals found a higher success rate in achieving their goals thorough email phishing rather than any other approach. This is due to the lack of awareness and knowledge on how to identify legitimate emails from fake ones. There are many ways that could help organizations in decreasing the numbers ...31st May 2021
Social engineers have found numerous approaches to exploit victims of their personal information. With the continuous increase of new cyber threats, society should be constantly informed and educated on how to distinguish and prevent them. Due to the direct interaction with the human user, social engineering is one of the most powerful methods of network penetration. Its success rate depends highly on the targeted individual’s knowledge and awareness. If they are oblivious of their tactics, then this makes the attacker’s job easy. Unfortunately, many fall for their schemes. Social engineering depends on human interactions and the flaws of humans. According ...29th Apr 2021
With the hit of the global pandemic and its effect on the world, cyber criminals took this to their advantage and capitalized on it. From the beginning of 2020, people’s lives changed drastically but especially employees and students. Online schooling and working from home are now the new norm and people needed to make this new adjustment while experiencing new threats and tactics from cyber criminals. Before the pandemic, cyber-attacks were a continuous issue for many but with more educational information on how to catch on to their tricks led to lower percentages of successful scams. But now, these criminals ...31st Mar 2021