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Despite billions being directed to secure critical infrastructure, digital security investments in smart cities will continue lagging until 2024.

The global cybersecurity spend in critical infrastructure is expected to reach $135 billion by the forecast period, this is according to market intelligence firm ABI Research.

The investment lag seeds future vulnerabilities within the IoT ecosystem while the use of IoT by the urban population to develop intelligent, efficient and sustainable solutions is set to increase.

The number of wide-area network smart city connections is expected to reach 1.3 billion of which 50% will be LPWA-LTE and LPWA- powered.

The majority of investments in technologies such as NB-IoT are in lowering bandwidth cost, increasing coverage, and lowering latency, at the expense of resiliency against cyber-attacks.

Fifty-six per cent of the $135 billion is expected to be accounted for by the financial, information and communication technologies and defence industries.

While the energy, healthcare, public safety, transport and water and wastewater industries are expected to account for 46% of the market share.

This means the industries will be left underfunded and vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

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Dimitrios Pavlakis, industry analyst at ABI Research, said: “Smart cities are increasingly under attack by a variety of threats. These include sophisticated cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, bringing industrial control systems (ICS) to a grinding halt, abusing low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) and device communication hijacking, system lockdown threats caused by ransomware, manipulation of sensor data to cause widespread panic (e.g., disaster detection systems) and siphoning citizen, healthcare, consumer data, and personally identifiable information (PII), among many others."

Pavlakis continued: “In this increasingly connected technological landscape, every smart city service is as secure as its weakest link.

“Lack of cryptographic measures, poor encryption key management, non-existent secure device onboarding services, weaponised machine learning technologies by cyber-attackers, poor understanding of social engineering, and lack of protection versus Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are just are some of the key issues contributing to the amplification of cyber-threats in smart city ecosystems."

"This is further exacerbated by the lack of digital security investments and will, unfortunately, jeopardise the key elements of intelligence, efficiency, and sustainability of future smart city deployments,” he concluded.

For more information about the report, visit Smart City Cybersecurity