Advancements in technology are driving change not only in our personal and professional lives but in the very cities in which we live. Around the globe, technology is driving changes to the very fabric of a city’s infrastructure in traffic control systems, parking meters, utilities and the way people pay their bills.

While cities are challenged with keeping citizen data protected, they also are limited in the funds they have available to invest in technologies as well as people and staffing to better prepare themselves for cyber incidents. If the traffic system is down, that impacts the private sector, which is why collaboration and communication between the public and the private sector is key to the success of these initiatives, according to Merritt Maxim, VP, Research Director at Forrester.

There’s an element of humility in security analysts, and many who are doing the research necessary to help security professionals do the work of defending their networks and infrastructure aren’t braggarts who go around touting their successes. That makes finding a particular “smart city” hero a bit challenging, which is one reason Maxim’s research is so important.

Rather than throwing city planners to the wolves, researchers work to identify the proven best practices that address the needs of the security professionals tasked with responding to the security and privacy challenges of our interconnected world. With the number of people living in urban areas expected to grow by 2050, it’s critical that the leaders behind these initiatives are aware of the potential threats, yet Maxim said that city planners and developers still aren’t prioritizing security.

As cities grow, municipal governments are investing in infrastructure and applications to improve operations, services for constituents, and the overall urban experience. Composed of the internet of things, ‘smart cities,’ aimed to optimize operations, present new security and privacy risks to city leaders and citizens alike,” Maxim wrote in a July blog post.

The ability to make our daily life experiences more convenient, efficient and economical is a driving force for change, but the onus of protecting these investments cannot fall solely on the public sector. “At the simplest level, success is defined as having no disruption of citizen services that are enabled by a smart city initiative,” Maxim said. But how do security professionals in the public sector ensure no disruptions? How do they defend against ransomware attacks?

In his new report, Making Smart Cities Safe And Secure, Maxim discusses the security implications of smart cities and guides security professionals in developing a plan to both overcome and address potential security and privacy challenges.

“Sharing is caring,” said Maxim. “Investing in people and resources who can consume intelligence and information about relevant smart cities’ cyberthreats ensures that organizations can leverage these insights to keep smart cities and its citizens secure from cyber incidents.”

Contributors: