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Smart Cities

Hackers can plunge smart cities into chaos

Many cities want to become more technologically advanced and modern. Yet such smart city concepts also carry some risks. Attacks on critical infrastructures have already begun to pile up, and not just in the USA.

26 Apr. 2017
Hacker Smart City IoT
(Photo: Shutterstock)

At the start of April, citizens in Dallas/Texas were rudely awoken from their slumbers: At 11.40 pm more than 150 sirens from the local storm warning system went off – over and over until 1.17 am in the night. The emergency number 911 was quickly overloaded. The only thing: There was no storm in sight. Instead, a hacker had triggered the deafening warnings. Those in charge realized that they had little other option than to take the entire system off the network.

In recent years, researchers have found many such security gaps, reports the magazine Technology Review , whether in traffic lights or in electricity meters. It goes on to say that experts worry that this is just the beginning: More and more devices are networked, the Internet of Things is expanding. And, consequently, more and more vulnerabilities are being created, which perhaps one day "may plunge entire cities into chaos." There is no lack of real examples currently either: Hacking of the power grid in Kiev and ticket machines in San Francisco to name but two. The magazine quotes Peter Tran, Senior Director of the US company RSA Security , which specializes in IT security. He postulates that, when shaping the future of cities, cyber security must have the same importance as any design or architectural requirement.