Smart cities could be facing major cyberattack risk

smart city
(Image credit: Jamesteohart / Shutterstock)

A new document published by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) says that local authorities will need to prepare themselves for the security challenges that come with the move toward smart, connected cities.

Smart cities are often described as urban areas that rely on a host of connected sensors that are constantly collecting and sharing data, with each other, as well as the authorities, in order to solve the many urban challenges of today, such as traffic congestion. 

However, the NCSC argues that since smart cities rely on moving, processing, and storing sensitive data, and controlling critical operational technology, it makes them an attractive target for threat actors.

TechRadar needs yo...

We're looking at how our readers use VPN for a forthcoming in-depth report. We'd love to hear your thoughts in the survey below. It won't take more than 60 seconds of your time.

>> <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank">Click here to start the survey in a new window<<

In light of this, the NCSC has published a guidance document to help authorities understand the security considerations that are required not just to design, build, and manage the smart cities, but also to protect critical public services from any cyber disruption. 

“It [the guidance] recommends a set of cyber security principles that will help ensure the security of a connected place and its underlying infrastructure, so that it is both more resilient to cyber attack and easier to manage,” reads the guidance.

Reel to real

In a blog post about the guidance document, NCSC's technical director, Dr Ian Levy, writes that one of the first Hollywood depictions of a cyber attack was against critical infrastructure.

Leveraging the fictional attack against a city’s traffic management system in the 1969 film The Italian Job, Levy writes that a similar attack on a modern, smart, connected city would be “catastrophic” for its residents.

“Failures within individual systems can have terrible impacts, but as they are increasingly connected and become interdependent, the compound effects are magnified,” writes Levy.

Levy hopes the principles laid out in the document will help the stakeholders make informed decisions, from a cybersecurity point of view, when planning a smart connected place. 


Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.