An overwhelming majority of IT professionals in US cities expect to be hit by cyber attacks that could pose a threat to public safety, according to the results of a survey announced on Thursday.
The survey assessed cyber security challenges associated with smart city technologies. Respondents included more than 200 IT professionals working for state and local governments.
Eighty-eight percent of respondents said “yes” when asked if a cyber attack targeting critical city infrastructure posed a threat to public safety
And seventy-eight percent of respondents said a cyber attack against smart city services was likely in 2016.
The survey was conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of Tripwire, a leading global provider of security and compliance solutions for enterprises and industrial organizations.
The smart city sector is growing rapidly, with revenues from global smart city technology revenue predicted by Navigant Research to reach US$36.8 billion in 2016.
But cyber security experts are concerned that these technologies are being implemented faster than the technology required to safeguard them.
“While smart cities offer great efficiencies for their citizens, the same internet connectivity that enables these efficiencies can be used to deliver physical damage to infrastructure and also cause loss of life if accessed by malicious actors,” said Rekha Shenoy, vice president and general manager of industrial cyber security for Belden, Tripwire’s parent company.
IT solutions are deployed by smart cities to manage utilities such as electricity grids and wastewater treatment as well as transport, surveillance and more.
The survey also found that eighty-one per cent believe a cyber attack targeting critical city infrastructure could cause physical damage.
Eighty-three of the respondents said they are worried about cyber attacks that target smart city transportation initiatives.
And just three per cent believed there would be no cyber attacks against smart city services this year.
“As we use more and more technology to innovate around the management of cities and their infrastructure, we also create new attack surfaces that can be exploited,” said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire.
“Protecting public infrastructure from cyber and physical attacks is a key consideration in the evolution of smart city technologies. We need to build smart cities with cyber security in mind, not add it as an afterthought.”