The promise of Smart Cities is under threat – unless we protect them now

May 27, 2021

It seems that everything is interconnected today, from your phone to your Smart Watch and Smart Doorbell; from Smart Grids to Smart Traffic Infrastructure. New models of cars boast more and more connections to outside devices, even if they’re not autonomous. It’s fair to say that the Internet of Things hasn’t just exploded – it’s slowly becoming integral to our everyday life and actions, even in ways that we don’t consciously realise.

Of course, this is largely positive – Smart Cities promise an optimised way of life, ensuring that resources like energy are used wisely or lessening common urban issues such as traffic or car accidents. However, a major issue has become clear: the networks that devices use to communicate with each other are distinct and often are not able to interface with each other – and are not built with cybersecurity in mind.

Therefore, it is crucial that as Smart Cities develop, communications networks and devices alike are protected against severe – and potentially dangerous – cyberattacks. Security-by-design must be a given in creating and implementing new technologies, rather than an afterthought. Principles such as zero-trust – which creates environments that only permits access to users as necessary, consistently verifying the identities as users attempt to access different parts of a network – will likely be all but compulsory.

This is especially true for 5G, which will underpin much of the Internet of Things going forward, and therefore has an ever-expanding attack surface. Additionally, 5G will have to grapple with decentralised models of data storage and processing, such as edge computing.

Wendy Noble, Executive Director of the NSA, recently commented to Breaking Defense, on the importance of implementing security-by-design principles: “The zero-trust model is predicated on encryption algorithms and key exchange processes that are quantum resistant. Likewise, fine-grain, cross-domain management of authorities and access controls must be embedded throughout the architecture.” In this vein, the NSA has recently announced that they will be releasing unclassified 5G guidance to help the telecommunications and other related industries heighten their cyber resilience.

Similarly, Dr Ian Levy, technical director at the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, has warned that Smart City technology will likely be increasingly targeted, given the amount of entry points for cyber attackers, the kind of sensitive information that is held and the severity of potential repercussions. For example, it is easy to imagine how hijacking a Smart Grid, which delivers water or energy, could have a detrimental effect on a city. Similarly, if communications between connected and autonomous vehicles are disrupted, it could lead to dangerous situations. It’s very clear that when it comes to Smart Cities, cyber attacks are no longer just a matter of security, but also of safety.

The success of Smart Cities, therefore, will ultimately be based on the strength of the cybersecurity of the network and the devices. That’s why ANGOKA has developed a technology that protects Smart Cities across networks, creating unforgeable identities for IoT devices and the 5G backbone. 

Our innovative security solution follows zero-trust principles, and is a decentralised and quantum-secure solution, designed with an eye on developing and future technologies.

“We are working to solve the problems of tomorrow’s connected world to ensure the safety and resilience of our Smart and connected cities. Cybersecurity must not only be developed for today’s threats, but also future threats – and that is why ANGOKA is at the forefront of tackling quantum security,” commented ANGOKA CEO Yuri Andersson.

In fact, ANGOKA was founded to address the inherent insecurity of machine-to-machine communications, and therefore, by extension, the significant cyber risks to Smart Cities and Smart Mobility. Our solutions safeguard these critical communications and data integrity across a variety of industries, including land and air mobility as well as Critical National Infrastructure. We create trusted connections, even over untrusted networks.

We currently have several research and development projects in progress, working to protect various aspects of Smart Cities, all funded by the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Two of these projects are focused on securing drone flight and communications beyond the visual line of sight; the third, led by BT, is working to quantum-secure 5G infrastructure for metropolitan use. Our work has also been recognised by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, Zenzic and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

There’s no doubt that Smart Cities are the future, but without proper cybersecurity measures we’ll never be able to fully capitalise on their potential. With a little help from innovative players like ANGOKA, we’ll soon be able to live in a transformed world, protected from dangerous cyberattacks.

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