Use of Technology for Smart Buildings

By CIOReview | Monday, July 29, 2019

The emergence of IoT and the growing demand for intelligent technology contribute significantly to the ever-increasing threats in the operational technology space.

FREMONT, CA: Buildings are quickly embracing digitization, and while the convergence of smart technologies and physical environments has significantly enhanced company activities and general capacities, this digitized working technique has in some ways led to potential vulnerabilities and single vectors of assault.

For years, this challenge has brought increased focus and consciousness to secure corporate and more traditional information technology (IT) systems, especially as more devices are introduced to networks as Internet of Things (IoT) technology proliferates. 

Operational Technology (OT) environments, however, are often overlooked by organizations when designing a cyber safety plan that can house delicate control systems. OT environments include machinery, sensors, actuators, and other equipment that helps to form the backbone of building activities but has not traditionally been linked to the Internet so far. And without the precedent of rigid cyber compliance, these environments are often susceptible, and in some cases, the organization's weak link.

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How can the Operational Technology Environment be a target?

In recent years, cyber safety policies have often concentrated merely on defending traditional IT systems and offering tighter controls over information safety in general, often directed exclusively at protecting private and corporate data. However, with the increase of intelligent digitization techniques and the capacity to derive value from earlier disconnected or air-gapped OT systems, these systems may enter a world for which they may not have initially been intended. Sometimes they can become a new destination as such. The emergence of IoT and the growing demand for intelligent technology contribute significantly to the ever-increasing threats in the OT space.

It can be a big mistake to suppose that there is no danger of an assault from any organization. The truth is that the cyberattacks of many OT devices are comparable to IT networks.

Understanding the Threats

The landscape of the threat continues to evolve. A first step toward constructing a robust cyber-security ecosystem is to understand and understand typical attacker motives and everyday cyber-risk situations.

Control systems can present simple objectives in the intelligent construction setting, with prevalent cyber threat situations including: accessing building control systems, disrupting the tasks of power management that cause interruptions and shutdowns, manipulation of temperature adjustments on HVAC devices, access to physical safety devices connected to the Internet, improper segregation of the network using OT technologies to obtain access to other, safer settings.

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Creating a Strategy for Smart Security

By understanding Operational Technology's cybersecurity hazards, decision-makers can make smarter purchasing choices, enforce targeted OT safety checks, educate staff inefficient procedural measures, and sustain improved cyber resilience across their settings. Usually, there is no fast fix. However, organizations need to take the first step to understand their internal threat landscape and map the level of maturity, as well as evaluate their risk appetite.

Steps to conduct the cybersecurity threats and risk assessment include an inventory of assets, network traffic baselining, identification of vulnerabilities, and leveraging findings. 

Developing a cyber-smart approach is a path that typically includes the continuing evaluation of inner processes and procedures, personnel awareness programs, and the implementation of appropriate applications, all relevant to a set of specified organizational criteria. While it will take time to climb the cyber safety maturity ladder, the key is to be notified and take the first step.