The companies include IOActive, Kaspersky Lab, Bastille, and the Cloud Security Alliance.
The group will serve as a communications node for companies, governments, media outlets, non-profit initiatives, and individuals across the world involved in the creation, improvement, and promotion of smart and safe technologies for modern cities.
According to Patrick Nielsen, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab Networks, smart cities designed to help protect people from criminals and terrorists could be misused by a third party exploiting system configuration flaws.
This initiative hopes to overcome these challenges by educating those involved in planning smart cities about the IT and digital security elements that smart cities could be exposed to, he adds."We believe that by creating awareness of these IT security realities for smart cities early on in the planning stage, the right measures can be taken to prevent cyber criminal threats to these cities," says Nielsen.
"As advisers, we are the support system for companies from the beginning to ensure the right plans and security measures are implemented into the project."
Cesar Cerrudo, CTO for IOActive and board member of Securing Smart Cities, says the cyber security of a modern, smart city is not something that can be solved individually – the concept involves different technologies communicating with each other in so many ways, that the only way to predict and eliminate all possible security issues is through collaboration between experts around the world.
Smart cities present a tremendous opportunity for growth, sustainability, and social improvement, says Cerrudo, adding the projects can't only be smart, they also need to be safe.
Enabling embedded technologies and leveraging the Internet of things in city infrastructure brings forth risk that must be considered and monitored to maintain safety for citizens, he adds.
Smart cities are progressing in SA where more broadband is being made available for such cities to exist, said Nielsen.
During his budget speech this week, Geoffrey Makhubo, a member of the mayoral committee responsible for finance, said the city of Johannesburg would prioritise becoming a smart city as it seeks to "bridge the digital divide".
In SA, bureaucracy, a lack of public-private union and a skills deficiency are reportedly holding back the country from realising smart city objectives.
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