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Drones – Ensuring Safety and Security in our Cities

No matter what you think about drones, they are here to stay, whether they are delivering your pizza, carrying out police reconnaissance tasks, or simply being flown for fun by amateurs, the use of drones is growing and will continue to expand. This means something needs to be done to ensure safety and security.

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), , together with Securing Smart Cities, a not-for-profit global initiative, have announced the release of the Establishing a Safe and Secure Municipal Drone Program report. This report, co-authored by the CSA Internet of Things (IoT) Working Group, provides important guidance for the safe and secure creation and operation of a municipal drone program by analyzing the drone’s role and impact on metropolitan areas.

“Whether you are a fan of them or not, it is becoming increasingly evident that drones will in fact play an important and even critical role in the smart city environment,” said Brian Russell, Co-author of the report and Chair of CSA’s IoT Working Group. “Cities around the country are actively working to implement large-scale drone programs to support various functions ranging from medical, transportation, and agricultural through to emergency management and infrastructure protection. It is important that these drone systems be safe, stable, resilient and sustainable.”

This research report identifies security threats caused by drones and gives guidance on how drones can be used as an effective cyber-security tool in smart city monitoring.

The report also outlines the impact drones could have on aspects such as national security. It also addresses measures needed to protect, monitor, respond to, and recover from cyber-security threats.

“Drones in the sky, drones in the sea, drones on land. But are we ready? The mass adoption of drones by cities implies that thousands of programmable connected mobile devices will not only operate in the streets, but also above and below them. From a security perspective, this guarantees potential disasters, should one of several drone systems or the software used to control them become compromised or manipulated. We’re trying to raise these issues early to the public, which is why we’ve prepared these guidelines,” said Mohamad Amin Hasbini, Securing Smart Cities board member.

Specific recommendations outlined in the report include planning requirements, integrated system design, acquisition security, integration, testing and deployment. Smart cities also present the problem of securing environments where systems are patched and devices are controlled.

Drones may be able to provide cybersecurity benefits including identifying rogue signals, monitoring sensing operations, identifying jammed signals and support incident response for other connected systems.

The authors of Establishing a Safe and Secure Municipal Drone Program are Brian Russell, Chief Engineer, Leidos; Mohamad Amin Hasbini Senior Security Researcher, Kaspersky Lab; and Martin Tom-Petersen, Client director and partner, Smart City Catalyst. You can download a full copy of the report by visiting the Cloud Security Alliance.

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