Smart cities provide us with safety, protection and comfort. Good management could allow us to share the cost of many services, such as increased security quotas. These advantages can be achieved for buildings, groups of users, neighbourhoods or cities. Many cities are adapting to this paradigm, which is starting to become a social requirement, especially in the current situation, in which security is a critical component and the economy is deteriorating.

Around the world, many smart cities are being built from scratch, using secure technology to pursue these benefits, as in the case of the Msheireb district in Doha.  However, most cities that are or want to progress towards the smart city model are integrating different technologies in terms of sensorization, IoT, data management, etc. and this makes them increasingly vulnerable to new threats. When you connect everything to the Internet you open up many doors and you must always be aware of the risk of leaving some of them open or not properly closed. 

We have seen the effects of cyber-attacks on connected industry, on Industry 4.0, but we have also seen attacks on numerous cities. Last year, we witnessed a large number of cyber-attacks against cities, towns and government organizations. In Augusta, USA, there was a cyber-attack that froze its network and forced the city center to shut down, hackers stole ransomware worth half a million dollars from the city of Tallahassee, Florida, and another attack blocked the state of Louisiana’s web portal and several online government services.

We need to ensure that controlled infrastructures in smart cities are not vulnerable to cyber-attacks, that their citizens feel safe while connected to the network, and that all connected devices in a city are protected. Technologies are being developed to ensure that critical and non-critical infrastructures are well-managed and protected at the same time. For example, in Spain, the company that has created a smart city management system is about to launch another one called that monitors networks, protecting infrastructures in a way that is transparent to the user.

This article has been published by the Innovadores supplement of the newspaper El Mundo.

Posted by Juan M. Corchado

Juan Manuel Corchado (15 May 1971, Salamanca, Spain) is Professor at the University of Salamanca. He has been Vice-Rector for Research from 2013 to 2017 and Director of the Science Park of the University of Salamanca. Elected as Dean of the Faculty of Science twice, he holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Salamanca and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of the West of Scotland. He leads the renowned BISITE (Bioinformatics, Intelligent Systems and Educational Technology) Research Group, created in 2000. Director of the IoT Digital Innovation Hub and President of the AIR Institute, J. M. Corchado is also Visiting Professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology since January 2015, Visiting Professor at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Member of the Advisory Group on Online Terrorist Propaganda of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (EUROPOL). J. M. Corchado has been president of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, and academic coordinator of the University Institute for Research in Art and Animation Technology at the University of Salamanca, as well as researcher at the Universities of Paisley (UK), Vigo (Spain) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK). He currently combines all his activity with the direction of Master programmes in Security, Digital Animation, Mobile Telephony, Information Systems Management, Internet of Things, Social Media, 3D Design and Printing, Blockchain, Z System, Industry 4.0, Agile Project Management, and Smart Cities & Intelligent Buildings, at the University of Salamanca and his work as editor-in-chief of the journals ADCAIJ (Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal), OJCST (Oriental Journal of Computer Science and Technology) or Electronics MDPI (Computer Science & Engineering section). J. M. Corchado mainly works on projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT, Fog Computing, Edge Computing, Smart Cities, Smart Grids and Sentiment Analysis. He has recently been included in the board of trustees of the AstraZeneca Foundation, along with other health professionals and researchers recognised for bringing scientific knowledge closer to society.