Safeguarding Our Lifelines: How Cybersecurity Measures Protect Public Utilities in Smart Cities


In the modern world, public utilities such as water supply, electricity, and waste management are often taken for granted. However, as cities evolve into ‘smart cities,’ these essential services are increasingly controlled by complex digital systems. While this brings efficiency and sustainability, it also opens the door to cyber threats that can disrupt our daily lives. This article aims to demystify how cybersecurity measures protect these vital services, a topic that resonates with the broader goals of the MARVEL project.

Why Public Utilities Are At Risk

As smart cities use interconnected systems to manage public utilities, the risk of cyber-attacks becomes a growing concern. A hacker gaining unauthorized access to a water treatment facility, for example, could tamper with water quality, posing severe public health risks. Similarly, a breach in an electrical grid could lead to widespread power outages.

Simple Yet Effective Cybersecurity Measures

While the term ‘cybersecurity’ may sound technical, the principles are straightforward. Here are some common measures that protect our public utilities:

  1. Firewalls: Think of this as a digital gatekeeper that filters out unauthorized access.
  2. Regular Software Updates: Just like updating your smartphone, utility systems need updates to fix security vulnerabilities.
  3. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): This is akin to having two locks on your door. Even if someone has the key to one, they can’t open the door without the second key.

Real-Life Example: Water Supply System

Let’s consider a city’s water supply system. It uses sensors to monitor water levels, quality, and flow rates. These sensors are connected to a central system that adjusts pumps and valves as needed. Simple cybersecurity measures like firewalls and MFA ensure that only authorized personnel can make adjustments, keeping our water supply safe and secure.

One of the main focuses of the MARVEL project relies on enhancing cybersecurity across various sectors, including smart city management. By understanding and implementing basic yet effective cybersecurity measures in public utilities, we align with MARVEL’s broader objectives of creating safer, more resilient urban environments.


As our cities become smarter, the need for robust cybersecurity measures in managing public utilities has never been more critical. While the technology behind it may seem complex, the essence of cybersecurity is simple: it’s about safeguarding our everyday lifelines. The MARVEL project serves as a catalyst in this endeavor, promoting cybersecurity best practices that protect the essential services we often take for granted.

Further reading

  1. Anderson, R. (2008). Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems. Wiley.
  2. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2018). Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.
  3. Schneier, B. (2015). Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. W. W. Norton & Company.

Blog signed by:  ZELUS team 

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Key Facts

  • Project Coordinator: Dr. Sotiris Ioannidis
  • Institution: Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH)
  • E-mail: 
  • Start: 01.01.2021
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Participating Organisations: 17
  • Number of countries: 12

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under grant agreement No 957337. The website reflects only the view of the author(s) and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.