Are smart cities as safe as we think they are? Security experts say not yet

While many people presume burgeoning smart cities to be secure and safe for use by citizens, a new study by security professional association ISACA reveals the potential for substantial threats.

The association surveyed approximately 2,000 security and risk professionals focused on smart cities, including their management strategies, risk management measures, and future technology initiatives. This research shows that malware and ransomware lead the top of concerns in the sector, as well as more frequent and destructive denial of service attacks. Additionally, when asked to name the most likely executors of these attacks, smart cities experts named nation-states and hacktivists.

Global survey respondents flagged several critical infrastructure areas as potential targets including transportation systems, environmental systems and local and regional government, with the energy sector named by 71 percent as most susceptible to attacks, followed closely by communications at 70 percent, and financial services at 64 percent. Only 15 percent of respondents consider cities to be most equipped to confront and neutralize smart infrastructure cyberattacks; more than half of respondents believe the national government would be better suited to confront these potential threats.

Ironically, energy, communications and financial services are among the top critical infrastructure that experts anticipate benefiting most from smart city technology, along with transportation.

“With nearly 3 million people moving to global cities each week, ISACA’s smart cities survey is a timely wake-up call that many parts of government need to up their game in both planning to prevent city infrastructure attacks and in engaging with their citizens about these plans,” Rob Clyde, vice-chair of the ISACA board, said in a statement. “The top threat areas identified (energy, communications and financial services) are both economically and socially critical, and inter-related. This reinforces the importance of national governments working much more collaboratively with their municipal and state/provincial counterparts on multifunctional, smart solutions across data analytics, A.I., blockchain, smart grids and emerging technology.”

These looming threats are very real. Smart meters, such as those found in most major metropolitan cities these days, can be sniffed for data that can be used to profile home users. Centralized transportation systems can also be at risk, as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was when it was hit with a ransomware attack in 2016. Smart sewage systems could be hacked to release wastewater into bodies of freshwater, poisoning local resources. Then there’s Dallas, with more than 150 tornado sirens blaring in the middle of the night. The list goes on.

While city planners, smart city experts, and related organizations and constituents continue to struggle with security, these complex systems continue to evolve. The not-for-profit global initiative for securing smart cities has a good head start with guidelines and complex analyses of developing threats and solutions. But many experts say that more work in this area of smart city development is needed, with solutions that may include Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT), more standardized Static Application Security Testing (SAST), and perhaps a regulatory body to ensure that only well-secured cities are able to invest in these technologies.

Smart Home

Leviton’s Wi-Fi Load Center and Smart Circuit Breakers give your home a brain

Is your home ready for a brain transplant? Adding individual smart plugs is quick, easy, and inexpensive, but the benefits are limited to one plug at a time. Leviton's Load Center and Smart Circuit Breakers can give your home a brain.
Smart Home

Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Which one is better for you?

What happens when you compare the Google Home vs the Amazon Echo? Both smart speakers have good qualities, but what happens when you compare they're features side-by-side? We think one of these smart gadgets wins over the other.

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Smart Home

Qualcomm goes all-in on Amazon Alexa voice control with a new development kit

Qualcomm is releasing an early valentine for smart home device manufacturers. The new development kit for its Wi-Fi networks integrates the Amazon Alexa Voice Service to enable voice control in more devices.
Smart Home

GE Appliances shows off wall oven with built-in air fryer, food dehydrator

GE Appliances is taking the air fryer trend to its logical conclusion and adding one to a wall oven. The company's new oven, on display at this year's Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, also includes a food dehydrator.
Smart Home

OK Google, what else can you do? The best tips and tricks for Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Smart Home

Stainless steel is so last year. In 2019, it’s all about colorful appliances

For the past couple of decades, the color of choice for appliances has been stainless steel. Now, makers are introducing ovens, fridges, and dishwashers in vibrant hues to give customers a more customized, refined look in the kitchen.
Home Theater

Reasons not to mount a TV over your fireplace (and other helpful tips)

Mounting a TV above your fireplace may be popular and it might even seem appealing, but we have some concerns. We've got a list of reasons why placing your digital picture machine over a fire should be avoided, if at all possible.
Smart Home

Colored fridges are back, baby! GE’s new appliances revive the 1950s trend

GE Appliances is coloring us surprised at KBIS 2019 by introducing new hues for its signature Cafe line of smart home appliances including four new hues launching this fall to complement its black and white options.
Smart Home

Amazon Echo Dot vs. Echo Dot Kids Edition: What’s the difference?

The Echo Dot Kids Edition combines a free year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited with a two-year, worry-free warranty. But is the Kids Edition really all that much different than the regular Echo Dot?
Product Review

Miele's TWI180 dryer has one job, but struggles to get it done

Miele’s Heat-Pump Dryer is a compact machine that steams your clothes by recycling the water collected during the drying process. But how well does this technique work for getting clothes dry?

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Smart Home

1 in 4 people plan to buy a smart lock this year, study says

According to new research published by Parks Associates, one in four households in the United States are planning to purchase as smart door lock within the next 12 months to protect their home.
Smart Home

Samsung lets slip that its Galaxy Home speaker will be here by April

Samsung has been teasing customers about its Galaxy Home smart speaker, powered by the Bixby digital assistant, for some time but after neglecting to mention it at Galaxy Unpacked, the company let it slip that it's coming in April.