The dazzling future of the Smart City; where governments are always connected -managing traffic lights, pollution control, and the power grid – all the way down to full home automation, from smart garage door openers, to your intelligent Google Nest thermostat – is now under attack. A recent article on Gizmodo brought up the ongoing struggles that municipalities are facing and that they will continue to face as they implement Smart City infrastructure and services. Dr. Hongwen Zhang, our CEO, brought up in an earlier blog that Smart Cities are being developed globally faster than ever before but that they need to be aware of the growing security issues that will face them. Due to the fact that there is an increasing number of IoT devices being added to the Smart City networks in order to automate more services, the growing number of devices is opening up these networks to increased attack surfaces. The Air Gaps that had been previously put in place to protect critical networks, are subverted to enable more efficient communication between IT networks and Operational Technology (OT) networks.
HOWEVER, as a result of inadequate security or operational defences being considered whilst the Smart City infrastructure is being put into place, we are starting to quickly see the effects of this. As noted in the Recorded Future report on Municipal ransomware attacks that we brought up in our previous blog, many of these municipalities that are taking the step towards being Smart Cities are also becoming the targets of profit-driven hackers who are utilizing Ransomware to great effect; taking down critical systems and demanding payment to release vital databases needed by these systems. The number of cities being hit by Ransomware continues to grow.
The Smart City future, where governments are connected 24/7 (thus, allowing them to offer services to their constituent more quickly and efficiently than ever before), is getting hit, putting a damper on municipalities looking to technology for ways to improve their systems and services. Unfortunately, at a time where many American cities are struggling with crumbling infrastructure such as bad roads, old mass transit systems, decaying schools and hospitals, their internet infrastructure is usually facing the same fate. This does not bode well as more and more IoT devices, equipment, etc. are added, often haphazardly, to this crumbling infrastructure. As cities around the world rush to become “smart”, with the hopes of adding efficiencies wherever possible, security has often taken a back seat, with not enough thought on the inevitable security problems and looming privacy concerns that will be a part of being a connected city.
That is why, at Wedge Networks, we continue to further develop and constantly look at ways of improving our Network Security platform. We feel that many of the issues that these municipalities are facing, as they rush to become “Smart”, can be dealt with using an orchestrated network-based platform that can protect the greatly increasing numbers of IoT devices that are being added to the city networks. Working with some of our partners, who are adding smarts to their power grid in Asia, Wedge’s Absolute Real-time Protection (WedgeARP) platform is proving itself to be the underlying security base for municipalities; acting like a water treatment plant, except that it cleans all the internet traffic that feeds the endpoints on these city-wide networks. With our patented Deep Content Inspection technology, combined with Artificial Neural Networks and multiple best-of-breed security services, WedgeARP can “see” all the content that traverses the network, detecting and blocking any and all malware in real-time, BEFORE they can reach the endpoints. With a platform like this in place, municipalities giving into the Smart City allure, can rest a bit easier, knowing that all of the devices that they are adding can actually be protected against Ransomware, Targeted Attacks, and all of the other Malware that hackers are using to try to shut down essential services.
As always, we continue to preach the “Detect and Block” approach to all. Municipalities going the Smart City route should be taking up this approach as they progress down the technological path to greater efficiency. Any city who is interested, should get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We continue to offer a FREE 90 day trial of our Wedge Advanced Malware Blocker and feel that it is our civic duty to continue to provide solutions that can help municipalities with their cybersecurity efforts.