Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Black Hat USA
July 31 - August 5, 2021
Las Vegas, NV, USA
November 4 - October 30, 2021
Toronto, ON, Canada
Black Hat Europe
November 8-11, 2021
Virtual Event
12:00 PM
Matt Lewis, Research Director, NCC Group
Matt Lewis, Research Director, NCC Group
Event Updates

Smart City Security Testing: Research -> Tooling -> Methodology -> Go!

The idea and concept of Smart Cities is certainly gaining traction. Cities around the world are already investing in trials, testbeds and in many cases operational system deployments such as smart energy, smart lighting, smart parking; the list goes on...

The idea and concept of Smart Cities is certainly gaining traction. Cities around the world are already investing in trials, testbeds and in many cases operational system deployments such as smart energy, smart lighting, smart parking; the list goes on...

The motivation in driving Smart Cities forwards lies with the promise of increased operational efficiency and the ability to use vast amounts of data captured by sensors and systems to improve the quality and provision of services and welfare to citizens. However, much of the marketing around Smart Cities is expectedly optimistic and often has little to no reference to security. As Smart City subsystem rollouts continue around the world with complicated interconnections to a myriad of other networks and orchestration systems that seek to govern and control the underlying city, this begs the question: “How do we test or assure the security of an entire city?”

At NCC Group we are answering this exact question through a dedicated research programme on Smart City security testing. Leveraging the expertise of our global hardware practice in the work that they do on IoT and embedded systems, we are researching the various protocols and systems that will underpin Smart Cities; developing tools and testing techniques and fleshing out methodologies for repeat and consistent testing and validation of Smart City security. For example, we have recently completed an in-depth study of LoRaWAN, a low-power, long-range protocol ideal for sensors that will be deployed around Smart Cities and will need to be operational with little to no maintenance for long periods of time. Using Pycom LoPy4 devices we have developed a full LoRaWAN testing capability which includes scanning, interception and interrogation capabilities. We are now building on this capability to include support for other Smart City protocols such as NB-IoT.

With our tooling and methodology we are able to drive around Smart Cities and enumerate sensors and devices. This is a key initial step in Smart City security testing as it allows us to map out the technology landscape and enumerate the technical function and capability of devices found. Each device in a Smart City, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, poses a potential attack vector into the Smart City network, or at least provides a method to potentially corrupt and manipulate sensing data in ways that might cause onwards disruption to services. The ability to geo-locate sensing equipment is likely to be a goal for attackers -  given physical access to these devices it may be possible to perform all manner of tampering and hardware-based attacks.

In addition to looking at the security of edge and end-node devices we are also surveying Smart City orchestration and general unified IoT connection software. The ability to take full control of these applications could allow attackers unfettered control of an entire Smart City – suddenly “root shell” becomes “root city” – a sobering thought.

Want to get involved in researching and testing IoT and Smart City technologies? Please do get in touch - https://www.nccgroup.trust/uk/about-us/careers/current-vacancies/

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
How Enterprises Are Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Environment
The adoption of cloud services spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in pressure on cyber-risk professionals to focus on vulnerabilities and new exposures that stem from pandemic-driven changes. Many cybersecurity pros expect fundamental, long-term changes to their organization's computing and data security due to the shift to more remote work and accelerated cloud adoption. Download this report from Dark Reading to learn more about their challenges and concerns.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-24
Unisys OS 2200 Messaging Integration Services (NTSI) 7R3B IC3 and IC4, 7R3C, and 7R3D has an Incorrect Implementation of an Authentication Algorithm. An LDAP password is not properly validated.
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-24
Cross-site Scripting (XSS) - DOM in GitHub repository mrdoob/three.js prior to 0.137.0.
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-24
Dell BIOS contains an improper input validation vulnerability. A local authenticated malicious user may potentially exploit this vulnerability by using an SMI to gain arbitrary code execution in SMRAM.
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-24
Dell EMC Data Protection Central versions 19.5 and prior contain a Server Side Request Forgery vulnerability in the DPC DNS client processing. A remote malicious user could potentially exploit this vulnerability, allowing port scanning of external hosts.
PUBLISHED: 2022-01-24
Dell EMC Data Protection Central version 19.5 contains an Improper Input Validation Vulnerability. A remote unauthenticated attacker could potentially exploit this vulnerability, leading to denial of service.