Secure Smart Cities Through Data Encryption Best Practices

September 1, 2021by Tech Innovation Forum

Data is at the core of smart cities. Privacy concerns among citizens and government regulations require this data to be secured. Data encryption can be an effective technique to secure smart city data and an approach driven by the best practices is the most efficient way to do this.

As per a 2008 study by UNFPA, more than 50% of the world’s population lived in cities and towns. Today, 1.3 million people per week are moving into these areas. The world is fast becoming urbanized. While this suggests, a rapid climbing on the social ladder, it is also creating a humungous challenge to provide a high-quality life in the cities and towns. Smart cities have emerged as the answer to these challenges and promise to provide a better quality of life to inhabitants.

Smart cities are built around Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based infrastructure with the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and other advanced technologies.  Data is the fuel that runs any smart city. It uses sensors, cameras and other tools to collect data and harness them to drive the management of assets, resources and services. While the data facilitates comfort, convenience and automation, there is also a risk of the data getting stolen. Unauthorized access to data can lead to serious problems for the citizens of a smart city and can result in the shutting down of the city’s infrastructure. Therefore, these data need to be protected.

In response to the data threats, governments across the globe have enacted data protection regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act in the United States and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted by the European Union (EU). Other countries too have designed their own laws to protect personal information and data. At the core of these laws is to ensure that robust security measures are in place and service providers collecting data have the responsibility to protect it.

A study by Security Boulevard estimates that nearly 16 billion records have been exposed in 2020. Last year has also witnessed some of the major cybercrimes with hotel chain Marriott and MGM Resorts.

Data encryption is one of the key data protection strategies for smart cities looking to protect their data, as well as to meet compliance regulations like GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act and other regulations.

Gemini Consulting & Services can help you build a robust data security mechanism for your smart city. Our data experts can help you build a powerful data security strategy, execute it at scale and manage the entire system. Over the years, we have worked with various government and private organizations in securing their data. Click here to know how our experts can secure your data.

Data Encryption & Decryption Best Practices

  1. Build a Data Encryption Strategy: The data encryption strategy will depend on the data volume, size of the smart city, and regulations in your country etc. Understand the country-specific regulations and your data protection requirements. Also, check if the law mandates you to certain security measures to follow.
  2. Identify the Data to Secure: Your country’s regulations would require you to mandatorily protect some data. As a rule of thumb, all sensitive or personal information like names, age, credit card numbers, etc., needs to be protected.
  3. Data in Transit and Rest: While all types of data should be secured, it is critical to lay special stress on your data-in-transit as it is more vulnerable to cyber-attacks than data stored in your local and cloud servers. Symmetric and asymmetric encryption has proven to be strong techniques to protect data in transit. Cryptographic protocols like Transport Layer Security (TSL) and Secure are also good in preventing unauthorized access to your data.
  4. Backup Decryption Keys: Take Backup of all the decryptions keys and keep it properly secured. Store the decryption keys in a different location from your data. This will help you protect against physical theft of data.
  5. Check Scalability of Your Encryption Program: Make sure that your encryption program is scalable across the smart city and is not kept in silos using a few systems and services. Schedule a monitoring plan to assess and review the performance of your encryption system.

In addition to data encryption, service providers in smart cities also need to use other data security measures like hardware encryption, secure erase and network safety etc., to protect their data.

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