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Monday - January 31, 2022

Building Cities Smart Enough to Deter Cybercrime

While it would be nice if the old adage “Crime doesn’t pay” were true, in reality, it pays handsomely. If cybercrime were a country, it would have the world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China. Research organization Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that cybercrime will have inflicted $6 trillion in damages in 2021, with figures growing 15 percent per year to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. This figure is the result of stolen money, theft of personal and financial data and intellectual property, lost productivity, the costs of investigation, restoration and deletion of compromised data and systems, and reputational harm to hacked organizations.

Cybercrime is a burden to all victims, but it’s particularly damaging to cities. These attacks disrupt essential public services, expose personal and financial data, and disable economies. The risks are escalating at a time when more cities are relying on interconnected networks and sensor-based infrastructures – smart city technology — to operate and deliver the applications people and businesses need, from energy distribution to mobility systems, from street lighting to waste collection.

Smart City Cybersecurity is a Journey, not a Destination

While it’s not realistic to expect that smart cities can be 100 percent insulated from cybercrime, what they can be is properly prepared. A SmartCitiesWorld Insight Report, published in association with Paradox Engineering, advocates a security-by-design approach and emphasizes that cybersecurity is a lifelong journey.

The report shares best practices and addresses some of the misconceptions that exist in city cybersecurity, including the belief that open systems are more vulnerable to attacks. Another myth is that cybercriminals are only seeking targets that will provide them with financial benefit. In truth, less obvious targets like smart lighting and waste applications are often attractive to hackers looking to cause chaos.

Dario Campovecchi, head of cybersecurity at Paradox Engineering, asserts that cybersecurity must be measured by the “weakest link of the chain.”

“If a highly secure system is integrated and connected to poorly protected components, the overall level of security will be poor as well,” he said.

Campovecchi added that security must be managed as a cyclic process that starts from understanding the assets and the associated risks, applying risk reduction policies, preventing known threats and being ready to detect and respond to threats.

Can a Smart City Outsmart Cybercriminals?

IT security experts emphasize that the best approach is to build a wall of defense that is reliant on all parties in a chain of shared responsibility. This includes properly vetting all suppliers and third parties to mitigate risk and identify where responsibilities begin and end. Municipalities should build an end-to-end security-by-design approach and keep in mind that the final system should be continually monitored for vulnerabilities and alert to unknown threats.

Assume cybersecurity threats always target the weakest points of a defense system built on interoperability. Exercise and enforce strict password management protocols, and ensure all parties involved understand their role and responsibilities. This will mean investing in education and training as well as conducting regular controlled tests in a protective environment.

It’s also worth exploring how emerging technologies such as blockchain can aid cybersecurity. In short, assume nothing and be vigilant, because cyber criminals could always be watching.

A Solution for Smart City Cybersecurity

Paradox Engineering is launching its own Security Operation Centre (SOC) to help customers effectively monitor, support, and respond to cyber threats and incidents. SOC will provide a dedicated team with expertise and tools to monitor the status of customers’ infrastructures, send immediate alerts in case of abnormalities or suspicious behaviors, and detect and quickly highlight possible vulnerabilities. It will also act as an incident response center by collaborating with other SOCs or Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).

While no one is immune to cybercrime, municipalities that understand how real the threat is will be better prepared to mitigate it. Contact us for more information about the SmartCitiesWorld Insight Report and how MinebeaMitsumi and Paradox Engineering can help protect your connected city.

Melody Williams
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