Smart cities make high-value cyber targets

Cyber criminals and cyber terrorists view smart cities as high-value targets.

We now live in an era of unprecedented urbanization. Governments have come to realize that we can't keep building cities the way we have in the past due to economics and environmental impact, as well as the rapid technological evolution of society. There are real and pressing issues that are forcing global governments to adopt smart city methodologies. Overcrowding, environmental impact, economics and cost containment, as well as diminishing availability of natural resources, have all combined to push the movement to the smart city concept. This is a fascinating topic for sure, but like most things the devil is in the details. 

There are several estimates as to the size of this market, none of which are small. The estimates range from hundreds of billions to a trillion in the near term. A group of analysts at IDC Government took a look at 69 cities as examples of the progress of Smart Cities in Western Europe. They suggested that the serious economic turmoil in Europe would negatively affect smart city initiatives and that the funding provided for smart city projects would slow in 2012. But in December 2012 they publically admitted they were wrong.    

"Despite economic and political troubles in the EU and other key European countries, politicians, citizens and other stakeholders remain interested in pursuing smart city pilots, and the [European Union] and Western European countries have dedicated significant funds for city projects," their analysis concluded. As you can deduce from the name, these initiatives are technologically intensive, integrated and connected to the Web. There is little doubt that cyber criminals and cyber terrorists (and for that matter, cyber intelligence organizations) see smart cities as high-value targets that are right around the corner. Those planning these initiative, as well as all the vendors providing the equipment necessary for smart city operations, have the opportunity to take a proactive approach to protecting smart city systems from cyberattacks.  If they don’t, it is not hard to see what the future hold for those systems.