Smart cities rely on the Internet of Things (IoT), using networks of data-gathering sensors to monitor how public services are used in order to make a city more sustainable and efficient. The IoT gives local authorities and businesses much greater access to a wide range of information. But should we be worried about security risks?
A new report released last week by telecoms provider Telefónica argues that the current approach to safeguarding against the threat of cybersecurity is lagging behind the rate of IoT development.
The report — ‘Scope, scale and risk like never before: Securing the Internet of Things’ — says that the many benefits of the IoT in a hyper-connected society must be counterbalanced by caution to avoid the “catastrophic risks” posed by cyber attacks.
“There’s lots of focus on the innovation opportunities around IoT — however there has been relatively little on its dark underbelly to date,” commented John Moor, director of the Internet of Things Security Foundation. “If we are not careful we could be sleepwalking into a lot of problems — some of which may not have been seen before.”
According to Telefónica, the report calls for a three-pronged approach based on common standards and regulations, greater dialogue and trust between developers and operators, and a universal understanding of cybersecurity to create a robust defence against ever-present threats.
“It’s not just about the privacy of our own data, or the security of our digital identities,” explained Chema Alonso, chief executive of Telefónica’s cybersecurity unit, ElevenPaths. “In the next few years our lives will be surrounded by devices connected to the internet that will digitalise every step we take, convert our daily activities into information, distribute any interaction throughout the network and interact with us according to this information. Never before has what we do in our physical lives been closer to the digital world. It is precisely the blurring of the line between the digital world and the real world that represents the changes introduced by the IoT. Let’s understand the problem before it’s too late, and guarantee we are able to offer a complete protection plan, taking advantage of all the knowledge that has been developed for other scopes.”
Alonso concluded: “The future of IoT is unwritten, but only through collaboration and insight can we achieve a secure foundation.”