Smart city drone deployments need security, IT best practices

Two groups, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and Securing Smart Cities, are urging smart cities to get ahead of drone deployments with solid cybersecurity and IT best practices.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Two security groups have outlined a series of best practices for securing drones in smart city deployments.

The groups, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and Securing Smart Cities, penned a 28-page report that ponders what can go wrong with drones and how they can go awry in a municipal setting.

Drones are increasingly being deployed in smart cities. For example, Philadelphia plans to use drones for building inspections and emergency services.

According to the report, drones intersect with a smart city's cyber security infrastructure, mobility and operating software systems. To illustrate the risks, the CSA and Securing Smart Cities groups outlined a series of recent issues including wayward drones that threatened public events such as football games, speeches and athletics.

In a nutshell, the municipal drone report argued that smart cities should aim for the following goals with any support system:

  • Keep citizens and municipal employees safe from harm caused by drones
  • Secure drones from electronic tampering and "hijacking" over the command and control
  • Keep citizen imagery and information private and safeguarded from Disclosure
  • Maintain compliance with all applicable rules and regulations
  • Keep drones in a "State of Readiness" to be available to operate when needed (24x7)
  • Maintain understanding of latest threats and vulnerabilities and keep systems up to date
  • Secure drones from physical theft during operation, maintenance and storage
  • Maintain stable operations through incident response and contingency planning

As for the actual drone management systems, the report noted that the concepts and workflow will look similar to other information technology systems. Here's a grid:


The overall goal is to arm city leaders with enough best practices to launch drone programs at scale. The report noted:

At this stage, city leaders are establishing the specific use cases for their drones and creating guidelines by which those drones must operate. A key aspect of this planning is identifying and documenting the national level regulations that drone programs must adhere to during operations. The regulations that apply are based on the location of the city

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