The rapid adoption of smart building technologies that deliver significant benefits also offers new opportunities for hackers with easy-to-exploit building infrastructure and smart systems.
Why are buildings now in the cross-hairs?
Today, almost every new building of any significant size is engineered to be smart. That means the building is populated with infrastructure and digital devices connected to the internet. Building owners and operators use many Internet of Things (IoT) devices to link to their building management systems to achieve greater efficiencies and to deliver enhanced services to building occupants, but frequently these systems are not designed or maintained with cybersecurity protections in mind. In fact, when many smart devices are deployed, default usernames and passwords are never changed, firewalls are not configured properly, and, too frequently, operators of these systems are not trained to fully monitor or defend these vulnerable systems. All of these factors increase the likelihood of a successful attack which could disable systems and cost thousands to recover.
The buildings industry has lagged behind other sectors, like manufacturing and data centers, when protecting smart building management systems against cyber threats. Hackers have breached building management systems to manipulate light, heat, air ventilation, and security control. Besides the financial risk posed by compromised assets, building owners also suffer damage to their reputations and the safety of building occupants.
Building owners may also face a lack of internal resources to help address a cybersecurity threat. While information technology (IT) experts excel at protecting servers and data processing systems, they lack knowledge of a building’s operations technology (OT) aspects (e.g., HVAC, lighting, lifts, and access control systems). Separately, facility engineers may hesitate to involve IT teams in modifying their well-established building infrastructure systems.
Cybersecurity solutions and services for buildings
Most building owners recognize the criticality of a long-term cybersecurity strategy but have not committed to enhancing their cybersecurity competencies.
Fortunately, qualified experts from third-party organizations now offer managed security services (MSS) that address the cybersecurity challenges that many building owners face.
For several years now, Schneider Electric has been providing building owners with innovative infrastructure management technologies. Today, that knowledge of building IT and OT systems is applied to strengthen cybersecurity in buildings. By helping clients formalize building-specific cybersecurity risk management strategies and offering a wide array of flexible cybersecurity services, Schneider Electric makes robust protection of more open, connected building infrastructure systems possible.
Here are three ways that Schneider Electric experts help building owners strengthen their level of facility cybersecurity protection:
- Assessment – A formal assessment of the building site reveals threats, risks, and vulnerabilities. By identifying the nature of cyber protection gaps, experts can recommend the hardware and software products needed to better detect, contain, and analyze the nature of cyber threats. In addition, recommendations for threat eradication and backup and recovery strategies are made to minimize any cyber-attack-induced downtime.
- Network segmentation – The protection of building OT systems can be like erecting a fence around your home’s property. OT network segmentation builds fences by splitting the OT network into zones so that, if a breach occurs, the damage is only limited to the subnetwork as opposed to the entire network. If a hacker were to successfully attack an aging Windows server operating the building management system, the upstream analytics and individual downstream devices would still be protected in a network segmentation scenario.
- Smart detection tools – OT- specific firewalls – software tools with embedded knowledge of building system protocols, capable of performing deep packet inspection can filter traffic at the protocol operational code and data element levels. These firewalls and software monitoring tools operated by security experts go a long way toward minimizing building-related cybersecurity risks. Schneider Electric experts work with partners like Claroty to deploy advanced tools that use artificial intelligence to determine if any cyber-related behavioral anomalies are occurring on the network at a very granular level.
For more information
Robust cybersecurity of OT systems requires deep specialization and expertise. By understanding how OT networks function and how building infrastructure protocols and devices are managed, Schneider Electric experts provide the knowledge, tools, and strategies needed to assure cybersecurity peace of mind.
To learn more about how a partnership with Schneider Electric can better cyber-protect your building portfolio, visit se.com where you can discover more about our world-class cybersecurity approach, solutions, and services for all industries.