Cyber Security Cannot Be An Afterthought In Smart Buildings

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Cloud Expo 2017: Stuart Higgins, head of smart cities and IoT at Cisco champions smart building security from the get-go

Smart buildings must be designed with security in mind form the get-go; it cannot be an afterthought if they are to be successfully crated.

Speaking at Smart IoT London 2017, Stuart Higgins, head of smart cities and IoT (Internet of Things) at Cisco championed the need for missions to create smart buildings, both when creating new structures or retrofitting old buildings, with security in mind.

“Security is really important and it has typically been something that has happened afterwards rather than thought about when you are making changes to the environment,” he said. “You’ve really got to consider security from the start.”

Security smart buildings

smart cityHiggins noted how not addressing security from the start opens up smart buildings to cyber attacks as hackers will look the point of least resistance when attempting to crack into a company’s network, database or systems.

“As you start connecting more and more things to any sort of network, the attack surfaces for cyber attacks is massively broadened,” he explained.

He noted that there are example of companies that have been attacked through connected ventilation and door entry systems rather than traditional networks as they often are installed without much consideration given to security so such smart technology provides an easy attack vector for hackers.

However, ensuring robust security in smart buildings, and integrating smart technology into a structures is no easy task.

“When you look at a modern building, there’s at least 10 or 11 different types of services, and on most of the building today typically [they are] on separate networks,” he said.

“If you think about that from the point of view of duplication, of risk, of cost, there’s a massive overlap that’s caused by the fact that these things have been put in by specialist companies; they’ve all been to different standards, they all work in different ways and really trying to do something in a building to make it really smart is pretty difficult as you have to bring all these things together.”

So creating smart buildings and subsequently smart cities takes a lot more effort than simply buying into all the connected and IoT products and services being offered by technology vendors.

Furthermore, Higgins noted that the UK needs to be more active in creating smart cities as aside from pockets of activity in Bristol, Milton Keynes, and Glasgow, the UK is not awash with smart cities despite the mass of benefits they can bring in terms of easing traffic congestion, improving air quality, boosting energy efficiency and simply making urban areas a more efficient and pleasant place to be.

That being said, there are still plenty of project were technology companies are working with other organisations to develop smarter infrastructure, as seen with Google and the National Grid on the cusp of exploring how artificial intelligence can improve the efficiency of supply electricity across the UK

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