Call to safeguard against potential cyber risks
08 Aug 2017 - 3:47
As smart cities become a reality in the GCC, smart buildings are increasingly becoming more prevalent because of the optimised efficiency and convenience they offer, for both operators and tenants.
However, wider adoption of smart building technology should stimulate corporations and governments to ensure that they are adequately prepared for potential cyber risks, stated in a comprehensive report titled ‘Cybersmart Buildings’ co-authored by Booz Allen Hamilton and Johnson Controls.
Smart buildings operate as a link between the physical and digital world and leverage data to optimise operations and lower facility costs, while increasing safety and sustainability. However, unlike cyber risks in other industries, smart buildings are not just susceptible to data breaches and IT interference, they are also vulnerable to disruptions that could negatively impact several aspects of daily life.
Cyber threat actors have demonstrated capability and intent in hacking building automation systems, safety systems, and critical environmental technology. Smart system network designs must be secured, if integrated with IT systems and networks, to make sure internal systems are not exposed to new threat vectors from building automation systems. For example, hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in Heating, Ventilating and Air
Conditioning (HVAC) systems as the entry point into a corporate network, or hack into IoT devices to breach the privacy of residents.
One of Qatar’s most ambitious construction plans for smart cities, Lusail, aims to deliver smart solutions to its stakeholders, in line with the country’s National Vision 2030 strategy.
With real estate players looking to reduce costs and meet sustainability and efficiency goals, smart buildings have become increasingly relevant and the wider adoption of such smart technologies across the country is resulting in an increase in the number of sensors and devices talking to one another.
Therefore, as automated systems control more of our environment, it is no longer enough for a building to be smart – it must now be cybersmart.
Dr Adham Sleiman, Vice-President, Booz Allen Hamilton says, “There is tremendous business value in embracing building automation, including their cost savings, energy efficiency and the security and convenience they offer to their dwellers. Smart buildings are an essential component of a smart city, pushing the power of digital optimization into the offices and homes.”
Wayne Loveless, Principal, Booz Allen Hamilton, says: “As the world evolves to smart neighbourhoods and smart cities, potential challenges around cyber security will be inevitable. It is important to have a plan and be prepared to continually evolve. Cybersecurity isn’t a tax on the business, it is not simply an IT issue, and it certainly shouldn’t be a scare tactic. It is a business enabler and, when executed effectively, it is about insuring your investment and generating returns.”