Plugging the security gaps in building system technology

July 09, 2019 by John Hatcher
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Plugging the security gaps in building system technology

Honeywell says that the risk of a cyberattack is an everyday reality – it is also an increasingly complex undertaking as the number and sophistication of malware, phishing and hacking attacks are on the rise. The good news is that there is a heightened level of security awareness around information technology (IT) systems; the bad news is that cybercriminals are starting to focus their attentions on operational technology (OT) – a weak link that remains worryingly undefended. To this end, Honeywell and Memoori are holding a webinar on 3rd September. The online event will discuss cybersecurity from an operational technology perspective and explain what steps companies need to take to ensure their OT systems are safe from cyber threats. The registration will be soon available here.

The OT environment, which includes control systems and their associated process networks, for example, building access control, is often outside the remit of IT departments and because of this, it can end up being disconnected from adequate security measures. The problems inherent in this situation are only going to get worse as built environments are becoming increasingly ‘smart’, in large part due to the roll-out of Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. As a result, the OT environment is interacting more with corporate systems. Protective measures therefore need to be put in place now.

Understanding the risk

By understanding cybersecurity risks around OT, decision makers will be better placed to make informed buying decisions, implement appropriate security controls (reducing risk), educate personnel in effective procedural measures and maintain heightened cyber resilience across OT environments. However, to ensure optimum outcomes, businesses need to work with security providers that understand the types and levels of likely threats.

It also needs to be an on-going partnership, as assessing threat developments and creating processes and procedures to ensure countermeasures are in place is not a one-off job. Building and maintaining a resilience to attacks requires constant vigilance and an understanding of common OT communication protocols, which have often been designed without stringent security measures. Moreover, many corporate environments continue to operate on outdated software and personnel often neglect to update default passwords on embedded accounts or personal devices.

Robust cybersecurity tools

A successful exploitation of any of these common security vulnerabilities can be far reaching, including a loss of operations and revenue, the shutdown of infrastructure and, even more catastrophic, loss of physical well-being. That’s why Honeywell Building Solutions continues to strengthen its OT cybersecurity tools, a robust end-to-end portfolio designed to help customers prevent, mitigate and respond to cyber attacks. The range of services and products typically begin with an OT cybersecurity assessment, followed by the secure installation and configuration of core infrastructure, the rollout of qualified cybersecurity appliances and software, through to 24/7 cybersecurity monitoring as well as incident readiness and advice.

IT and OT systems often operate on the same networks so a vulnerable building automation workstation can present as much risk as an infected USB drive. The level of integration and connectivity increases each year, and, as a result, so does the risk of cyber attacks. However, with the right set-up and support, companies can put the safeguards in place to help avoid unexpected crisis costs, keep reputations intact and remain compliant.

In order to help companies understand how they can build their cyber resilience strategy, Honeywell and Memoori are holding a webinar on 3rd September. The online event will discuss cybersecurity from an operational technology perspective and explain what steps companies need to take to ensure their OT systems are safe from cyber threats. The registration will be soon available on our website: https://buildingsolutions.honeywell.com.

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