Smart cities are a real thing—could you live in one? Do you live in one?

Actually, a smart city is an “urban development vision” used to manage a city’s assets by integrating multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions within the city. A smart city’s ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for its residents.

With just an internet connection and one of the endless number of devices available, residents can do a multitude of things like pay parking meters and purchase movie tickets.  Did your device run out of battery while you were on-the-go? Go ahead and hook up to one of your city’s many public charging stations.

Yes, a properly planned smart city can make life more convenient, but this is also a double ended sword. However convenient, in regards to internet security, it is very dangerous. At the end of any given day, there’s a high possibility that any one of these connected devices could be hacked, while criminals getaway with your top private information.

Danger wherever you look

City Bikes

The next time you take one of those public bikes for a spin, keep in mind that these electric bike stations are run by a computer… a computer that can be hacked like any other connected device. You’ll see that at each bike station there’s a small computer screen for riders to register, recharge passes, report incidents, and map the other stations in close proximity. But like any other computer, cybercriminals can use a lot of different techniques to take advantage of any vulnerability that these systems might have.

On these payment screens, in the maps section, there are various (public) sections on the platform, such as “Report an Error” “Privacy Policy” and “Terms of Use”. When these are tapped, an internet explorer window pops up. From there, the cybercriminals have access to a virtual keyboard—this will ultimately give them the power to execute those unwanted applications. This is the start of their hack—now they can access and collect info belonging to all those wanting to rent a city bike, getting their full names, verified email addresses and phone numbers. Some hackers will be able to steal customer payment data, too.


New York City’s famous yellow taxi has jumped on the “smart experience” bandwagon. Aside from the tourist maps, Broadway ads and business cards that fill the back seat of the yellow cabs, passengers can use the tablet attached to the Plexiglas divider separating you from the driver. Go ahead and read the news during your commute, and when you arrive at your location, and make your payment from the same device.  Just remember, if a cybercriminal gets in the back of this cab he could successfully install malware and gain access to a lot of customer information. Likewise, remember to watch out for the public chargers in the taxi. Just imagine all the people whose privacy could be in danger.

We leave you with a last note, if a city wishes to become a smart city, installing these intelligent devices requires that all businesses commit to the necessary security measures to safeguard government and public privacy. Keep your citizens safe by following adequate security assurances.