Solution Providers Step Up Their IT Security Investments To Address Key Concerns In Smart Building Technologies Investments

In June 2017, Honeywell took two major steps to improve its cybersecurity solution offerings by firstly acquiring Nextnine, a security solution provider for industrial cyber security, for an undisclosed sum, and secondly investing in a Cyber Security Innovation Centre in Asia Pacific. We are also seeing firms such as Insys Icom, traditionally focused on secure data communication in the industrial sector, expanding applications for building automation systems in commercial buildings.

These are important steps because one of the biggest barriers to growth in remotely accessing building management systems - one of the key features of a smart building - is IT security. The IT industry has established a sophisticated process for monitoring and protecting IT networks, but these concepts are not as well developed in building systems and many of the equipment that make up the Internet of Things (IoT). Additionally, there is often lack of communication and collaboration between the IT department and the facilities department. There is also increasing pressure on service providers to provide an out of the box security solution.

Smart buildings are particularly vulnerable as every added connected device is another potential door into the building’s wider network. Even one of the most high-tech companies in the world, Google, was hit by a cyberattack in 2013 through a Building Management System. Retailer, Target was hacked through the HVAC system in 2014. This year, we have seen severe ransomware cyberattacks, such as the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack that affected computers in over 150 countries. This type of attack now feels very regular with a similar one occurring as we write. Individual buildings such as hotels have also been targeted and hacked through building automation systems – witness the attack on a luxury hotel in the Austrian Alps in February, where the card system got breached, shut down and a ransom demanded to get the system restored to enable guests back into their rooms.

IT security is widely talked about and whilst global building solution providers such as Siemens, JCI and Schneider Electric provide services around keeping buildings automation systems secure, the time has come to make those investments much more visible. It may also open new avenues for differentiation against cheap equipment providers with very fast development cycles in which security comes right at the end – often when critical design choices effecting security have been made and cannot be changed.

To learn more about the market for remote monitoring solutions see our recent report - Now Is The Time To Implement Remote Monitoring Solutions.