The More Connected, The More Vulnerable: How Hackers Could Break Into Smart Cities

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
Smart cities
As smart cities become more advanced, security experts say that current defenses against hackers will not be good enough. Background vector created by pikisuperstar – www.freepik.com

As cities become smarter, more connected and more livable, they are becoming more vulnerable to hackers who could break into sensors used to collect data about public utilities, traffic, garbage collecting, road conditions and much more.

The more connected a city is, the more vulnerable it is to cyberattacks, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Holding smart cities hostage

Using ransomware, hackers can hold cities hostage by crippling critical infrastructure for months at a time, as was the case in Baltimore and Atlanta.

“The reality of the situation and the risk we have to manage is that we’re introducing new opportunities for malicious hackers to exploit devices that have previously required physical access. We’re lowering the barriers to entry,” said Dave Weinstein, former chief technology officer of the state of New Jersey and now chief security officer at the security firm Claroty Ltd.

When essential infrastructure such as power grids and emergency alerts are hacked, a dream smart city could quickly become a nightmare.

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The dark side of smart cities keeps researchers at IBM awake at night. Researchers from IBM Security and data security firm Threatcare found out in 2018 that many sensors in smart cities are vulnerable to simple attacks.

“It appears to be a huge area of vulnerability, and the stakes are high when we’re talking about putting computers in everything and giving them important jobs like public safety and management of industrial control systems,” Daniel Crowley of IBM X-Force Red told Wired.