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Smart city advances leave data, systems more vulnerable

As smart cities integrate connected technologies to operate more efficiently and improve the quality of city services, new cyber security vulnerabilities arise that require diligent governance of municipal technology, according to a recent report from technology industry association ISACA.

The study reveals several key areas of consideration when it comes to the data and systems security of these cities and the critical infrastructure systems they depend upon.

ISACA surveyed about 2,000 global executives in February and March 2018, and 71 percent of respondents said the energy sector is the critical infrastructure system most susceptible to cyber attacks. That’s followed by communications (70 percent) and financial services (64 percent).

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Power transmission lines run from an electricity pylon in Braintree, U.K., on Wedenesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Britain's business lobby groups said that Labour leader Ed Miliband opposition's proposal to break up the "Big Six" utilities and cap power prices threatens the investment needed to avoid blackouts by the end of the decade. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The research shows that malware/ransomware and denial of service are the most concerning types of smart infrastructure attacks. In addition, respondents noted that cities’ smart infrastructure is most likely to be targeted by nation-states (67 percent) and hacktivists (63 percent).

Despite the many threats for which cities are specifically vulnerable, only 15 percent of respondents consider cities to be most equipped to contend with smart infrastructure cyber attacks, compared with 55 percent who think the national government would be better suited to deal with the threats.

A majority of respondents consider implementing new tools and techniques such as smart grids and artificial intelligence for cyber security to be important. But less than half of respondents consider those likely to be implemented in the next five years.

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