The UK’s security is at risk because of increasing reliance on vulnerable digital technology, a new IMechE report has said.
Smart Cities: Technology Friend or Foe? says the government must make electricity networks more resilient and reliable, including against hackers, to keep key systems working. Communications, transport, security surveillance, heating, cooling, lighting, water, food supplies and trading could all be jeopardised by power cuts caused by hacks, the report said.
The institution called on the government to “urgently” look at the demands and reliability of power infrastructure, and the requirements of digitally integrated cities.
It recommended three priorities: the government should include electricity system requirements for new smart cities in the planning of pathways for the country’s future power infrastructure; city authorities should collaborate and share knowledge of smart city technology; and the education system should “radically reconfigure” education and training to be suitable for a 21st century smart city future.
“As we become more reliant on digital infrastructure, we are becoming more dependent on our electricity network. This means it has never been more important to ensure we have secure and reliable electricity supplies, robust enough to withstand threats from potential hackers and resilient to our changing climate,” said IMechE director Colin Brown.
“We have already seen major hacks of power plants and electricity networks in USA in 2003, when a nuclear power plant in Ohio was disabled by hackers, and more recently in 2015 in the Ukraine where a cyber-attack caused a grid outage which affected 225,000 people. On a grand scale hacks on our electricity networks could lead to chaos and looting of the sort we saw from natural causes in Texas and Florida in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.”
To read the report, click here.
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