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Security and NFC in the Age of Smart Cities: A Closer Look into Singapore’s Winning Strategy

The term smart cities has become quite a buzz word in the last years, constantly evolving to adjust to an ever changing technological landscape. One of the most recent definitions describes smart cities as a ‘city-scale software platform, enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT)’, that can be used to effectively coordinate and analyse urban systems in order to support better decision making (Britt, Forbes, 2023).
The city nation of Singapore has become a forerunner in this field, continuously ranking first as the ‘smartest’ city in the world. With the help of sensor technology, the country developed an autonomous fleet to help the elderly and disabled, an AI powered digital health system, a central government app aiding with government services, and a TechSkills accelerator program educating the population about AI focused professions (Thales, 2023).
At the centre of Singapore’s ambitions stands Punggol District, the future centre of innovation. The mixed-use space will host companies at the forefront of artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and cyber security, all in conjunction with the renowned Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and various governmental organisations (BECA, 2018). The main focus here will on the three key growth areas of fintech, cyber security, blockchain, preparing for the innovations of tomorrow.
Interestingly, a uniquely large number of cyber security organisations will be moving into the space, such as (ISC)2 Singapore, Cyber Youth Singapore, or Cloud Security Alliance, hereby emphasising again the need for security in an interconnected space as such (JTC, 2022).

Vulnerabilities on the Rise
Hyperconnected cities, such as Singapore’s Punggol district face an ever increasing number of vulnerabilities that have to be counteracted to prevent not only damage to critical infrastructure but even potential loss of life as a consequence. While smart cities can improve efficiency, promote sustainability, boost economic growth, and even enhance the safety and security of residents, it also provides an opportunity for attacks (Goyal, NOVATR, 2023). Some of the most common attacks include:

  1. Man-in-the-middle: An attacker interrupts or spoofs the communication between two systems. For example, in the event of an attack on a wastewater facility, this kind of attack could even mean a potential biohazard spill.
  2. Data and identity theft: Attackers use personal data from EV charging stations, surveillance cameras, or traffic signals, to conduct fraudulent transactions and identity theft.
  3. Device hijacking: In case of device hijacking, the attacker effectively takes control over a device, sometimes without the user even noticing. The hijacker could then, for example, use smart metres to launch a ransomware attack on a city’s energy management system.
  4. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS): A DDoS attack temporarily or indefinitely disrupts services of a host connected to the internet. Hereby, the attackers typically flood the target with illegitimate requests in order to prevent real requests from being fulfilled. This can overwhelm a system and is notoriously hard to block due to the attack originating from multiple sources.
  5. Permanent Denial of Service (PDoS): Also known as phlashing, a PDoS attack permanently damages devices to a degree in which it has to be replaced (IDB, 2023).

The Importance of Mitigating Risks
Experts recommend implementing and following security protocols throughout integrating and operating a smart city. Some of the measures recommended include making frequent software updates, restricting who can connect to smart city devices, regularly scanning application tools, using heightened network security rules, disabling any unused or unnecessary systems, perpetually scanning network activities to identify suspicious traffic, implementing strong access controls, properly securing the framework, authenticating devices before receiving and transmitting data (IDB, 2023).With the help of 24/7 monitoring, cyber analysts in Singapore are working tirelessly to prevent cyber attacks. With integrated cyber security measures, such as ICT security policies, building a secure technology architecture, and conducting frequent security testing, the nation built a strong basis for the future. Singapore even implemented digital defence as a 6th pillar of their national defence, involving the community through programs to counteract any potential threat (Smart Nation Singapore, 2023). Through its emphasis on innovation and security, Singapore is currently the most advanced smart city in the world and will presumably defend its first place in the ranking for a long time to come.

Beechat Elerium as Smart City Security
In order to tackle the risks right at its roots, the Beechat Elerium NFC tag places utmost importance on security. As the world’s first dynamic NFC tag, Elerium changes its response every time it is scanned which prevents duplication and enables frequent upgrades in order to enhance security. By using the most advanced cryptography available, post-quantum cryptography, Elerium is ideal for usage in an access control system.
Due to its flexibility and options of customisation, Elerium can be used for a variety of applications, ranging from verifying authenticity to collecting sensor data and seamlessly integrates into any kind of system which makes it the ideal choice for adoption in smart city solutions. By integrating it into devices such as sensors, cameras, drones or IoT systems, Elerium creates an interconnected system with security at its core and therefore protects every participating layer. Through our innovative and printable smart paper range, Elerium also helps to secure physical communication which can be especially important in government environments. If you want to know more about the Beechat or the Elerium NFC tag, visit our website