A new Tripwire survey found that 38 percent of respondents believe smart grids have the greatest cyber security risks when compared to other smart city services and 20 percent said they have the smart city initiatives for their smart grids.

According to Tripwire’s survey, 98 percent of respondents consider smart cities at risk for cyber attacks. Smart cities use IT solutions to manage a wide range of city services, including smart grids, transportation, surveillance cameras, wastewater treatment and more. Smart grids and other smart city services face unique and escalating cyber threats. For example, the results of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) GridEx III "cyberwar games" revealed significant challenges with the cyber threat intelligence practices of grid operators.

“Smart grids can help optimize utilities, but bring additional cyber security and regulatory challenges,” said Rekha Shenoy, vice president and general manager of industrial cybersecurity for Belden, Tripwire’s parent company. “Respondents to this survey seem to recognize these threats, but their smart city initiatives need further refinement. Identifying smart city cyber risks is just one step; smart cities need to translate this recognition into action.”

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • When asked why there is a lack of cyber security resources for smart city initiatives, sixty-one percent of respondents cited budgets, and 60 percent believe politics interfere with decision-making.
  • More than a quarter (26 percent) of the respondents said transportation faced the greatest cybersecurity risks when compared to other smart city services.
  • Ninety-eight percent of respondents said their jurisdictions’ smart city initiatives are important.

“Security isn’t usually glamorous, and it can be difficult to sell the need for added time and cost on a project, even when it’s to ensure that services are secure,” said Tim Erlin, senior director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire. “Smart city initiatives are pushing the technological envelope for urban infrastructure management, and it’s clear from the survey results that cyber security is being left out of the conversation.”

Shenoy added: “Municipalities are dazzled by the promises of the Industrial Internet of Things, which can bring cost savings and improved efficiency. However, the dazzle will wear off quickly if smart city initiatives can’t keep up with new threats, regulatory requirements and hidden costs. In order to succeed, smart cities must actively protect their critical infrastructure.”