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Jesse Klebba, CEO, Urgent Technology asks how much thought you give to your cyber security.

That is, security relating to IT, information and communications technologies. Not so long ago it would have been the sole domain of the IT department. Today, the typical facilities manager has responsibility for a considerable network of computer-controlled equipment and devices.

Network is the key term (and security issue); the fast- growing ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) means almost any device can be connected to a network, and that network may be both within and outside of your organisation. Your network is as secure as the networks that you are connected to.

Urgent Technology’s new white paper, “Cyber-threat and the FM solution”, provides several recent examples of network breaches linked to FM. These breaches have occurred in some of the most secure facilities imaginable, as follows:

• Google’s Wharf 7 office in Sydney was hacked via its Building Management System (BMS) by two security researchers who were able to access the building control panel showing the layout of water pipes in the third floor at its Australian headquarters. These experts said, “We could have taken over the operating system and accessed any other control systems that are on the same network”.

• A breach of credit and debit card data at US discount retailer Target may have affected 110m consumers. Analyst reported that this was carried out via a malware (short for malicious software) email phishing attack sent to employees at a third-party HVAC firm that did business with the US retailer.

• In other cases, the US Department of Homeland Security reported that hackers had broken into a state government facility and made it “unusually warm”!

For the facilities manager, these are worrying examples of how FM-related technologies could be the route into


an organisation’s core systems and information. Yet despite all these growing threats, there is evidence that organisations are doing little to protect their systems from cyber-attacks, and the built environment appears to be particularly vulnerable.

The consequences of ignoring the threat of cyber- breaches are far reaching. Added to the reputational, fiscal and personal consequences, a data breach also now brings a risk of prosecution under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which applies to any global company that holds data on EU citizens.

FM must be aware. According to Gartner, 5.5m devices are being connected to the Internet each and every day within the built environment, and it predicts that by 2018, one billion devices will be deployed in commercial buildings, rising to 20.8 billion by 2020. However, as BMS evolve into internet enabled Building Automation Systems (BAS), they are much more susceptible to possible cyber-threats. A technology that enables users to control all the elements of a building, including security equipment such as CCTV and door locks, is also more vulnerable to cyber-attack.

Our white paper sets out the ways in which FMs who are concerned that their systems are vulnerable can begin the cyber security process with an assessment of the data stored. It goes on to describe how risk assessments can be carried out, and how the organisation can ensure that all the weakest links within the system are detected.

If a wide-ranging and proactive approach is taken, this should ensure that FM can reap the undoubted benefits of workplace digitisation while ensuring that facilities are not open to undue risks. In the future FM and IT must remain alert to cyber-threats, and work together with their software vendors and supply chains to help reduce the likelihood of data breaches.

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