Advancements in AI, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices, have made it possible for cities to increase efficiencies across services like transportation, water management, and healthcare. To do this, smart cities rely on interconnected devices to streamline and improve city services based on rich, real-time data.

However, the fast adoption pace of networked technologies is potentially creating a deep well of vulnerabilities. There are already millions of smart home devices in the world, including smart alarms, locks, lighting, baby monitors, and thermostats and televisions. It is predicted that there will be more than 21 billion connected devices by 2020.

Consequences of information getting hacked

As smart cities rely on accurate data to properly function, if information is hacked, it has the potential to bring a city to a standstill. For instance, traffic control systems could be exploited to cause jams or crashes. Other risks include subways grinding to a halt, or water supplies being contaminated.

Targeting people opens the door to the ‘weakest link’ and can uncover vulnerabilities such as lack of authentication and encryption

This scenario is not as far-fetched as it may sound. In 2011, hackers gained control of the water control system in Ohio and destroyed a pump that serviced 2,200 customers. Furthermore, hacking entry points can be quite straightforward to unleash this chaos. For instance, smart lights bulbs and vending machines on a college campus were recently used as a starting point to launch a cyberattack against an unnamed university in the US.

Targeting people to hack data

The most obvious low hanging fruit when targeting smart cities will be to target people. Targeting people opens the door to the ‘weakest link’ and can uncover vulnerabilities such as lack of authentication and encryption, and weak password storage that can allow attackers to gain access to systems.

Given the huge quantity of smart devices now in our everyday life, defending against the sheer volume of attacks will become a challenge for smart cities. In a report by Cisco Cybersecurity in 2017, 35 percent of chief information security officers and security operations professionals said they see thousands of daily cyber threats, but only 44 percent are investigated.

Implementing best data security measures

Realistically, in the environment of a smart city, from smart meters to intelligent transportation infrastructure and sensors, they are likely to capture a lot of data about us as individuals. This data may be used to provide better services, efficiency, and other smart-city goals. That said, this also means lots of data, including personal information, is collected, stored, and used in a smart city. This will make smart cities a very tempting target to attack for hackers. That is why it is crucial that best security practices are built into a smart city’s means of data-gathering and processing.

The SPC intruder detection system has been designed so that should an attack penetrate, such as Denial-of-Service, the system has multiple communication paths available as a backup

For instance, the amount of data that IoT devices can create is colossus. A Federal Trade Commission report entitled ‘Internet of Things: Privacy & Security in a Connected World’ found that less than 10,000 households can produce 150 million distinct data points daily.

SPC intruder detection system

Physical security has moved from being very simple inputs and outputs, to being always-connected devices. This makes the industry very much part of the IoT world. This has changed how Vanderbilt thinks when designing and developing their own security systems, in particular SPC. This intruder detection system has been designed so that should an attack penetrate, such as Denial-of-Service, the system has multiple communication paths available as a backup.

Therefore, if one server is flooded and taken down, the system can immediately switch to a backup server and then change communication paths to bypass the attack and ensure messages still operate successfully. So, the system will remain operational, and it will still be able to communicate out, but it will start to shut down elements of itself to protect the system from further damage in the attack.

Advantages of smart cities

Of course, it is not all doom and gloom. Smart cities are springing up at a rapid rate for a reason. In Barcelona, smart water meter technology is helping the city save $58 million per year. In South Korea, one city cut building operating costs by 30 percent after implementing smart sensors to regulate water and electricity usage.

According to the United Nations, 66 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. This will have many varying effects, including in transportation, energy, and health and safety. Cities consume 75 percent of all energy and are responsible for 40 percent to 60 percent of greenhouse gasses. Air quality remains a concern, including so-called ‘black rivers’ of pollution in urban areas that are leading to an increase of respiratory disease.

Employing more machine learning algorithms to scour the web for vulnerabilities ahead of time could be a possible solution to combat vulnerabilities

The impact of congestion on emergency response and waste management also must come into consideration. As seen by the success stories in Barcelona and South Korea, smart cities can help combat these problems and thus will play a key role in benefiting the lives of its citizens.

Investing in IT infrastructure to prevent cyberattacks

So, while technology will help to change some of these problems for the better, security for smart cities must come first and foremost. Employing more machine learning algorithms to scour the web for vulnerabilities ahead of time could be a possible solution to combat vulnerabilities.

Naturally, cyberattacks and data breaches can’t be avoided entirely. But rather than trying to accomplish the impossible, smart cities should focus on investment in IT infrastructure capable of resisting outside attacks.

This includes forcibly shutting down potentially hacked systems until security experts can resolve vulnerability issues. One must remember that technology’s growth also means that security defences are developing in parallel. At its core, security is about being continuously observant, following best practices, and being ready and able to react against a security issue.

Deploying network intrusion mechanisms

With IoT devices, security is now an endless game of cat and mouse in staying ahead of the latest threats and hacking innovations. Therefore, vulnerability testing is also a valuable weapon in your overall defensive arsenal. As well, as vulnerability testing its systems, Vanderbilt has various other forms of obstacles and barriers to deter and deceive would-be hackers.

The encryption used by FlexC communications between panels and the cloud is an AES 256-bit SSL encryption

Encrypting sensitive data and deploying network intrusion mechanisms that can regularly scan for suspicious activity and protect against hackers trying to breach control systems remotely is also another key step to take.

FlexC, Vanderbilt’s communications protocol, was built from the ground up solely with cybersecurity in mind. The protocol is a bespoke design that ensures everything is encrypted, all communications are monitored, and multiple types of attack are considered for defensive purposes to provide the best security possible. The encryption used by FlexC communications between panels and the cloud is an AES 256-bit SSL encryption.

Adding an extra layer of security

By encrypting anything before you send it to the cloud, it adds an extra cushion of control and power over that data. It not only provides an added defensive structure around a company's information, but it also adds peace of mind to the equation when relaying this data to the cloud.

Having an environment within the software industry of open disclosures only means that we can learn from mistakes, we can see how hackers are attempting to breach systems, and ultimately, it can help us stay ahead of the curve and one-step clear of hackers’ latest intentions. When vulnerabilities are reported, it just means that testing down the line will improve.

However, one of the most obvious places to start is to choose equipment from reliable suppliers that have a knowledge and interest in cybersecurity and are focused on protecting your data. When your security system is designed from the ground up to protect against cyberattacks, naturally your organisation will be in a much better place.

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Smart home access control growth and the future of door security
Smart home access control growth and the future of door security

There’s growing noise around smart homes and smarter security. You’ve probably heard it. But there is a place where access control and more have been smart for decades: the workplace. Home automation and IoT are still playing catch-up with the commercial sector. A new insights report from ASSA ABLOY and IFSEC Global — “The Smart Door Locks Report 2018” — measures just how fast consumer smart technology is running. According to a survey conducted for the report, 61% of households now claim to own at least one smart home device or system. Energy monitors, home CCTV cameras, intruder alarms and smart door locks are the most popular, according to the report. All these functions, of course, have been available to businesses for years.61% of households now claim to own at least one smart home device or system Educating the smart home consumer Paradoxically, report data also questions how much consumers really know about their smarter home. A surprising 42% of those surveyed, for example, were unaware they could control a smart door lock from their phone. In fact, many leading smart door lock models offer this feature, delivered by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and an app. Despite a wealth of features offered by the latest smart door locks — remote and location-based locking/unlocking; voice activation; timed access; emailed entry alerts; and integration with smart camera and lighting systems — most people still have limited knowledge of their capabilities.  Smart technology is increasingly becoming the new norm in terms of home security  Only 14% of survey respondents described themselves as “very familiar” with what a smart lock can do. Even though most of them probably use smart access control solutions at their workplace. Secure homes through smart technology Monitoring and security are not the only drivers for smart home adoption. We humans also love convenience, and modern living presents us with problems that smart home technology can solve. Ironically, given the report’s findings, it takes a smartphone to really unlock the convenient possibilities of smarter living. The device that’s “always to hand” is central to the newest generation of smart door locks.A smart door lock is a convenient way for a landlord or agency to offer round-the-clock check-in and check-out If homeowners wish to remotely manage property access for friends and family, many smart door locks oblige. You let in guests remotely, send them a virtual digital key, or provide a temporary or single-use PIN to unlock the door. It is just as easy to revoke a digital key, if you don’t want its owner to come around anymore. This is a significant improvement over sharing physical keys — or hiding one under the doormat. We cannot be totally sure where a metal key ends up and have no way to track or cancel it once it’s “out in the wild”. Commercial access control offers such functionality as standard, of course.  In addition, smart door locks offer more than just stand-alone operation and clever functions. In a domestic setting, magic happens when locks work in harmony with a home automation system, connected by protocols like Z-Wave, ZigBee or Wi-Fi. "Smart" security on the move  The smartphone is becoming a remote control for managing a connected life beyond just home (and even workplace) security. According to Accenture, the parcel delivery services market will grow by $343 billion by 2020. Just like home security, convenience is a major driver of change. Homeowners can send guests a virtual digital key to their phones, or provide a temporary or single-use PIN to unlock the door A recent PostNord pilot in Sweden aimed to remove the inconvenience of waiting home for a postal delivery. Selected customers of some major Scandinavian e-retailers could choose to have parcels delivered inside their front door, if it was equipped with a Yale smart door lock.  Home delivery is among potential smart services covered in “The Smart Door Locks Report 2018 ”. When asked whether the ability to receive parcels securely in a porch or lobby would make them more likely to invest in a smart door lock, 79% said it would.It is easy to revoke a digital key, if you don’t want its owner to come around anymore Holiday rentals and smart home tech ASSA ABLOY research published in 2017 forecasts continued growth in the European holiday rentals sector (at 5.8% CAGR). Smart door locks are also making an impact here, at both ends of the market: for service providers — agents and homeowners — and for travellers. A smart door lock is a convenient way for a landlord or agency to offer round-the-clock check-in and check-out, without creating extra work or staff costs. Both Intersoft, in Croatia, and Hoomvip in Spain have built holiday rentals management systems around an app and the ENTR® smart door lock. Agents issue, revoke, track and manage virtual keys for all their guests, saving everyone time and hassle. Travellers use their phones and an app to unlock their apartment. For these visitors the smartphone is already an essential travel accessory. It is a boarding pass, a credit card, a travel guide, and a postcard home... why not a door key, too? And if this key is backed by a trusted home security brand — and a company with vast experience in the mature market for commercial “smart” security — better still.

Bosch startup SAST addresses need for evolved solutions in security industry
Bosch startup SAST addresses need for evolved solutions in security industry

Security and Safety Things GmbH (SAST) is a new company that has announced its vision for an Internet of Things (IoT) platform for the next generation of security cameras. The Bosch startup plans to build a global ecosystem for the development of innovative security camera applications. Based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), SAST provides libraries, an API framework, and codecs for developers to work with. The SAST App Store will allow developers to build and market new applications, similar to today’s app stores for smartphone applications. We presented some questions to Nikolas Mangold-Takao, VP Product Management and Marketing, about the new venture, and here are his responses: Q: Why a new company now? What technology innovations have made this a good time to launch this company? The time is right to bring market needs and technological innovations together on one platform"Mangold-Takao: From a technical perspective we see two main drivers: increasing computing power at the edge and increasing internet connectivity, which will enable devices to directly communicate with each other and bring new technologies such as artificial intelligence also to the security and safety industry. At the same time, we see that this industry and its users are hungry for more innovative solutions – addressing new security needs while at the same leveraging the possibility to improve business operations for specific verticals, e.g. retail and transportation. The time is right to bring market needs and technological innovations together on one platform for this industry. Q: Why does SAST need to be a separate entity from Bosch? Mangold-Takao: SAST is setup as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bosch Group. We wanted to make sure that SAST is able to underline its role as an industry standard platform across multiple players. SAST is open to get additional investors and is being setup as a startup in its own offices in Munich to foster the environment where speed and innovation can more easily take place. Having said that, several entities of the Bosch Group are very interesting partners for SAST. The SAST App Store will allow developers to build and market new applications, similar to today’s app stores for smartphone applications Q: Please explain your "value proposition" to the industry. Mangold-Takao: We will bring new innovations and possibilities to the security and safety industry by providing an open, secure and standardised Operating System for video security cameras, to also address pressing issues such as cyber security and data privacy concerns. Devices that run then with the SAST operating system will work with an application marketplace provided and operated by SAST. Integrators and users can then use these apps from this marketplace to deploy additional functionality on these devices. With our platform we will be able to build up a community of app developers, including the ones not yet developing for this industry who have expertise in computer vision and artificial intelligence. Q: It seems what you are doing has parallels with the Apple and Android "app" stores. How is your approach the same (and how is it different) than those approaches? We are setting up SAST as a user-centric company and involve selected users very early on in the process"Mangold-Takao: The approach is similar in the way that we plan to generate revenue by operating the application marketplace and thus participate in the app revenue. The difference is that there is much more needed than apps and cameras to create a complete working solution addressing a user problem in this industry – we need to make sure that our own platform as well as the new applications being created will work as a part of an end-to-end solution. Q: "Critical mass" and wide industry participation seem to be requirements for your success. How will you achieve those goals? Will you involve integrators, consultants, or other parties in addition to manufacturers (to drive awareness)? How? Mangold-Takao: SAST is in close exchange with device manufacturers, integrators and consultants, as well as application developers and large end-users at the moment to ensure that we are building the right platform and ecosystem for this industry. We are setting up SAST as a user-centric company and involve selected users very early on in the process. We will run dedicated programs and hackathons to attract app developers, already active and new to our industry. We will also run selected pilots with end-users throughout 2019 to ensure we have all partners involved early on. SAST sees the industry is hungry for more innovative solutions – with the retail vertical market a target for these solutions Q: What timeline do you foresee in terms of implementing these initiatives? Mangold-Takao: While we start with first app development programs and plan our first pilots already for this year, we are planning our commercial launch for end of 2019. Q: How does your new company relate to the new Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA)? Mangold-Takao: The Open Security and Safety Alliance has been working very closely with SAST over the past year, defining some important concepts and elements required. One of the most important elements is an open and standardised Operating System, specific to this industry, which will then bring forward new innovative technologies and solutions. SAST is actively working on this Operating System, based on Android Open Source Project (ASOP), but is evolved and hardened with industry-specific features. Q: What's the biggest thing you want the security industry to understand about SAST? What is your "message" to the industry? Mangold-Takao: Our message is simple: let’s build better security and safety systems – together! But for real, innovating an industry is a joint effort, we can only bring new innovation to this industry with partners who share our vision and are excited about new technology. At the same time, we strongly believe that our platform allows every partner to bring forward what they do best but also invite new partners to our industry.

What is the value of remotely monitoring a system's health and operation?
What is the value of remotely monitoring a system's health and operation?

When is it too late to learn that a video camera isn’t working properly? As any security professional will tell you, it’s too late when you find that the system has failed to capture critical video. And yet, for many years, system administrators “didn’t know what they didn’t know.” And when they found out, it was too late, and the system failed to perform as intended. Fortunately, in today’s technology-driven networked environment, monitoring a system’s health is much easier, and a variety of systems can be deployed to ensure the integrity of a system’s operation. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How can remote monitoring of a security system’s health and operation impact integrators and end users?