Smart cities are emerging as a new paradigm for urban living, integrating advanced technologies and connectivity to provide a wide range of innovative services and applications. Smart cities consist of multiple interconnected networks and devices, making them inherently more vulnerable to cyberattacks and operational risks. Smart city security then is an important discussion, as these systems’ increasing complexity and interconnectivity pose significant challenges for cybersecurity and operational resilience.
As the number of interconnected devices increases, so does the potential attack surface for cyber criminals. Moreover, the technologies that smart cities incorporate often do not work together seamlessly, which makes maintaining smart city security and operations a key challenge.
Smart City Security and Access Control
To address these challenges, ConsoleWorks provides a centralized platform for managing the day-to-day operations of critical infrastructure in smart cities, with a focus on Zero Trust security principles and operational risk mitigation.
ConsoleWorks uses dynamic, role-based security policies that continually assess activity and risk associated with management of the infrastructure. It prevents unauthorized access and reduces the risk of malware and viruses by establishing a security barrier with a protocol break between the person requesting access and the critical infrastructure.
In a highly connected environment, access to critical resources is strictly controlled based on the principle of “never trust, always verify.” This approach ensures that only authorized personnel are granted access to critical infrastructure, minimizing the risk of insider threats and external attacks.
ConsoleWorks addresses this challenge by implementing a Zero Trust, privileged access model, where access to critical resources is strictly controlled based on continuous verification of identity, device posture and contextual information, with granular authorization and least privilege enforced.
ConsoleWorks’ solution for privileged access management includes secure storage and rotation of privileged passwords. It stores, manages and secures privileged credentials, which are often targeted by cybercriminals, helping to prevent unauthorized access and reduce the risk of credential theft.
ConsoleWorks’ dynamic security policies continually assess activity and risk associated with people who manage the infrastructure, as well as the systems’ current state and risk before granting access. For instance, it can minimize or prevent access to a system where a known vulnerability has been identified or monitor and assess all activity by the user and even interrupt user sessions if risky activity is observed.
Examples of dynamic Zero Trust policies for user access control:
- Context-aware access control: ConsoleWorks can assess the current context, including the user’s device, location and other environmental factors, to determine whether to grant access. For example, access may be granted for a user attempting to access a system from a trusted device on a trusted network, but not from an untrusted device on an untrusted network.
- Role-based access control: ConsoleWorks can apply access control policies based on the roles and responsibilities of individual users. For example, a system administrator may have access to sensitive systems that a regular user would not have.
- Time-based access control: ConsoleWorks can control access based on the time of day, limiting access to specific resources during specific hours. For example, access to critical systems may only be granted during business hours.
Smart City Security and Configuration Monitoring
Another critical feature of ConsoleWorks is its robust audit and logging capabilities. These capabilities track all user activity and access to critical systems, allowing for quick identification, remediation and forensic analysis of any operational or security incidents. ConsoleWorks monitors all user activity down to the keystroke for command line interaction and records all RDP and VNC sessions.
ConsoleWorks can monitor all configuration changes to a system, including changes to user accounts and device settings to ensure that system configurations remain secure and aligned with security standards and best practices. By using dynamic policies to continually assess the risk associated with each change, ConsoleWorks can detect and alert the appropriate person to any suspicious activity. This can help prevent unauthorized changes from going undetected and allow security teams to quickly identify and respond to any attempted cyberattacks.
By establishing standardized configurations for devices and systems, ConsoleWorks can help reduce the risk of configuration errors or changes that could leave a system vulnerable to cyberattacks. ConsoleWorks can also ensure that all systems remain compliant with security policies and regulations.
Overall, ConsoleWorks can play a key role in helping to prevent system configuration changes from opening vulnerabilities to cyberattacks, by providing monitoring and continuous verification of:
- Unpatched software: Failure to apply software patches or updates can leave systems vulnerable to known exploits and attacks.
- Weak passwords: Weak or default passwords can be easily cracked by attackers, providing them with unauthorized access to critical systems.
- Misconfigured access controls: Misconfigured access controls can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive data or systems.
- Disabled security features: Disabling security features, such as firewalls or antivirus software, can leave systems vulnerable to attacks.
- Open ports: Leaving ports open and unprotected can provide attackers with easy access to systems and networks.
- Misconfigured network protocols: Misconfigured network protocols can expose sensitive data to unauthorized access or interception.
- Outdate firmware: Outdated firmware on devices such as routers, switches, and other network devices can leave them vulnerable to attacks.
- Unsecured remote access: Unsecured remote access can allow attackers to gain access to systems from outside the network perimeter.
Defense Through ConsoleWorks
Finally, in a highly connected ecosystem like smart cities, various systems work together in collaboration to enable those who manage critical infrastructure to act faster and work smarter. ConsoleWorks plays a critical role in this as the method by which operators access the infrastructure.
ConsoleWorks receives all alarms from other cybersecurity point solutions requiring a person’s attention, thereby reducing mean time to remediation. This centralized platform ensures that all operations and cybersecurity issues are funneled for response through ConsoleWorks by those individuals who ensure the availability of critical services, with a focus on security and risk mitigation. ConsoleWorks effectively becomes the hub of the ecosystem, connecting all critical infrastructure components and ensuring the highest levels of security and operational resilience.
ConsoleWorks can be deployed in a hierarchical fashion, tailored to the specific needs of any critical infrastructure environment. A local instance of ConsoleWorks can be installed at the lowest level (plant, airport, substation, etc.) providing local control of access and assets by the individuals with responsibility over that location.
Meanwhile, a regional instance of ConsoleWorks can be deployed to enable sharing of only specific information across that region. This architecture can be adapted to suit the specific requirements. At the highest level, a corporate instance of ConsoleWorks can be deployed to provide overall visibility of the entire system.
With this hierarchical deployment model, ConsoleWorks offers a flexible, scalable solution that can be tailored to specific needs while allowing centralized or distributed control and management of privileged access to critical infrastructure.
ConsoleWorks plays a critical role in addressing the challenges of cybersecurity and operational resilience by providing a centralized platform for managing the day-to-day operations of critical infrastructure. With dynamic, role-based security policies, continuous risk assessment, real-time monitoring of activity and integration with other technologies, ConsoleWorks helps make smart cities safer and more secure for their inhabitants.