How to Protect Smart Cities From Cyber Attacks Using Blockchain
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Smart cities and opportunities that digital transformation and IoT technologies offer can help to improve the quality of life in urban cities. However, this “smart” urban landscape, with numerous connected devices and vast communication network, opens up a whole new set of security challenges—challenges that cannot be addressed by the existing conventional cybersecurity solutions.
Below we explore the potential of blockchain technology to provide robust scalable solutions and secure large-scale smart cities’ networks from cyber attacks.
The Next-gen Solutions
IoT-powered smart cities consist of several users and numerous different kinds of devices – big and small, enterprise and consumer - connected to central systems and one another. Not only this, unlike traditional network perimeters consisting of a fixed number of devices, smart city networks are ever expanding and hence require security solutions that can be just as scalable without compromising on quality or efficiency.
And that’s where blockchain and other emerging technologies come in. The technology attributed to the success of cryptocurrencies offers significant potential in securing the millions and billions of connected devices and an ever-growing smart city network. The cryptographically secure, decentralized and consensus-driven blockchain technology can be used to secure not only end users’ identity, connected devices and critical infrastructure but also offers secure communication and transmission of data across the network. This, along with other emerging technologies, SDP architecture and approaches including the zero-trust model, offer unique opportunities to secure smart cities in bold new ways.
Digital IDs for all and everything: Assigning blockchain-based digital smart IDs can help securely identify, authenticate and authorize each and every resident as well as every one of the connected devices within a smart city network. These IDs are unique and difficult to tamper with, spoof or clone. The Smart ID can be used to authenticate oneself and access various services as well as to securely link, store, share and authorize the use of personal information by relevant agencies and service providers. By its very nature, blockchain is cryptographically secure, helping ensure that all information stored as well as passed around within the network remains encrypted and protected from attempts to compromise it.
Scalability to protect an ever-expanding network of users and devices: Owing to its decentralized nature, a blockchain-powered system effectively removes single points of failure that can be taken down or compromised in a cyber attack. This feature makes such a solution highly robust while the multi node-based system provides a scalable solution for the ever-widening smart city perimeter. It allows for ease in scaling up and down as large number of users and various kinds of devices are added to or leave the network, without compromising on the efficiency of the security.
Locked down critical infrastructure and isolation of infected devices: Additionally, leveraging software-defined perimeter and a zero-trust security model allow such a solution to ring-fence and render critical infrastructure invisible, ensuring vital utilities are secure while isolating and immediately addressing any potential threats to the system. Software-defined perimeter architecture can be used to render critical infrastructure in smart cities invisible, by ring-fencing them and only permitting recognized devices visibility and access to these resources. This provides an additional layer of security and prevents the risk of external threats. The Zero Trust model provides micro-segmentation, allowing for compromised user IDs and infected devices to be quickly isolated from the network and acted upon independently.
Tamper-proof logs record all activity, preventing any attack from going undetected: One of the most powerful attributes of blockchain—the provision to record all access and communication within the network in tamper-proof logs makes it impossible for any potential attackers to hide or erase their attempts to access or misuse information within such a secure smart city network. The instant visibility ensures that any successful unauthorized attempt is recognized, the infected device can be taken offline and its access to other connected devices in the network can be disabled, preventing further escalation of the cyber attack.
With ever-growing population migrating to urban cities in developed and emerging economies of the world, digital transformation is the only way forward in ensuring that cities’ infrastructure can keep up with the rising demand of its residents. The opportunities on offer are immense, but cybersecurity is a pertinent threat that needs to be addressed before large scale rollout of smart city programs can be undertaken. These digital initiatives will require significant investment and effort as well as modern approaches towards security in order to realize their true potential and ensure mainstream adoption.
Emerging technologies, models and methods offer opportunities to secure smart cities in bold new ways. Fortifying connected devices, critical infrastructure and complex networks with truly next-gen security systems will help minimize risk and ensure smart city programs realize their potential in the real world as a viable solution to tackle growing urbanization.
To know the role of blockchain technology in securing smart cities, read here.