Smart City and cybersecurity: the issue of urban mobility


In the realm of smart cities, despite their ultra-connectivity, there exists a chronic cybersecurity deficit within the domain of urban mobility infrastructure.

As the urban mobility sector becomes increasingly diverse, attention is drawn to the escalating frequency and severity of cyberattacks targeting a connected yet vulnerable fleet of mobility assets. This marks the inception of a series of articles shedding light on cybersecurity concerns in smart and interconnected cities.

In June 2023, the municipality of Olsztyn, Poland, found itself on high alert as a cyberattack paralyzed public transport ticketing systems, disrupted traffic flow, and compromised the city’s traffic light management system. This incident underscored the susceptibility of Olsztyn’s sophisticated smart city infrastructure to cyber threats.

Within smart cities like Olsztyn, urban mobility involves a multitude of stakeholders, including traditional public transport operators, emerging soft mobility startups, and private transportation providers. The integration of these services is imperative to achieve multi-modal transportation solutions. However, a significant challenge arises from the inadequate cybersecurity measures protecting these transportation networks, as highlighted in a report by the European cybersecurity agency, ENISA.

Connected urban mobility systems play a pivotal role in optimizing traffic flow and enhancing transportation efficiency. However, this interconnectedness also introduces vulnerabilities susceptible to cyberattacks. From London’s traffic tolls to smart sensor-equipped CCTV cameras, these systems are targeted by cybercriminals aiming to exploit security flaws for malicious purposes.

Moreover, soft mobility services, such as bike or scooter sharing platforms, are not immune to cyber threats. Attacks targeting these systems can compromise user data and disrupt service operations, posing significant challenges to urban mobility providers.

Past cyberattacks on urban mobility systems have demonstrated the potential catastrophic consequences, including traffic accidents resulting from tampering with traffic lights. These incidents underscore the urgent need for robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard smart city infrastructure.

To address these challenges, a multi-faceted cybersecurity approach is essential, encompassing comprehensive system mapping, stringent access controls, network segmentation, encryption, and backup protocols. Furthermore, collaboration between cybersecurity experts, industry stakeholders, and local authorities is crucial to fortify urban mobility infrastructure against evolving cyber threats.

In conclusion, securing urban mobility in smart cities requires a concerted effort to implement robust cybersecurity measures and foster collaboration among stakeholders. As cities embrace mobility and connectivity, ensuring their security remains paramount.