Experts express concerns as cyber security threats loom on Smart Cities

Cyber security threats loom large on Smart cities as the country embarks on a journey to create about 100 such cities driven by smart solutions, leveraging on cutting edge technology.

Together, these Smart cities aim to house 40 per cent of India’s population and contribute about 75 per cent to India’s GDP (gross domestic period) by 2030.

Some of the smart solutions include e-governance and citizen services, smart urban mobility, smart waste management, smart health care, smart energy and water management among others.

These smart solutions are powered by combination of heterogeneous enabling technologies such as smart cards, IoT (internet of things) based devices and wearable devices, autonomous systems devices at physical device level, integrated with intelligent mobile apps, cloud computing, open data and advanced analytics powered by new age AI (artificial intelligence) solutions.

Even if the use of these technologies reduce the cost of gathering information for structured analysis, they are also fraught with associated cyber risks.

“IoT provides significant advantages but it comes along with associated cyber risks. As the government gets more and more familiar with the benefits that IoT can deliver specifically for smart cities – key concerns around security, privacy and trust are likely to grow. A comprehensive understanding about the cyber security threats that these technology brings is being still worked upon but its rapid adoption is exposing potential security breaches”, said a FICCI-KPMG report on 'Cyber Security in Smart Cities'.

Experts, too, have expressed concerns on cyber threats looming over the Smart cities.

“The development of Smart cities has huge potential to bring benefits for businesses, city services and people. But the security of the underlying digital infrastructure is the key to success. Imagine the impact on Bhubaneswar if a successful cyber-attack shuts down parts of smart city application infrastructure because security wasn’t developed correctly or considered at all”, said Piyush Ranjan Rout, a Bhubnaeswar-based urban planner.

It is vital that collaboration occurs between vendors, device manufacturers and governments to develop more stringent regulation around IoT security. Cities of tomorrow will undoubtedly be smarter as the years go on but getting IoT security right will be the difference between a Smart city and a secure city, he added.

The FICCI-KPMG report has suggested a five-point action plan to enable Smart cities to keep pace with the cyber security needs and build a cyber-resilient and trusted environment across the entire value chain. The key measures suggested by the report are establishing a formal cyber security framework, building in security from the ground up, deployment of security in integrated form across value chain, establishment of cyber resilient and trusted environment and engagement across industry, knowledge bodies and regulatory groups to standardize security measures.

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