Five Reasons Your Building Isnít as Secure as You Think
Building technology and security are often seen as an afterthought to building operations. Frequently, assumptions are made that everything is secure from todayís cybersecurity threats, or the risk is low because buildings arenít e-commerce platforms or other obvious targets. But are you really secure?
Many buildings have internal systems that were built in a simpler time, often with security as an afterthought Ė think default passwords, unpatched control systems, and operating systems that are no longer maintained or patched. In a world where cybersecurity is a daily headline, complacency for IT operations in commercial buildings is truly a false economy. While e-commerce and data centers may get the bulk of the attention from hackers, targeting building systems can be easy prey for the bad guys out there.
We have spent considerable energy analyzing and documenting the inner workings of building systems, and Ė not surprisingly Ė found many weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers, compromising your systems or tenants, and creating unwanted reputational risk. The following Top Five list is comprised of actual findings encountered during our efforts to secure building systems from cyber attacks.
(1) The Unpatched Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
Building surveillance systems are incredibly common Ė the technology is inexpensive enough that even the smallest properties have installed cameras and other monitoring devices. The vendor that is responsible for installation is often not concerned with the security implications of the digital video recorder (DVR) or digital video cameras that are network accessible. We consistently see many DVRs sitting on the same network as other building systems. To make matters worse, recent DVRs now have Internet-enabled features. For the vendor to enable these features, they typically open one or more inbound firewall ports so the DVR is easily accessible from anywhere. This is commonly done so the building engineer can remotely monitor their cameras. While having remote access to the cameras is incredibly convenient, it is also a security threat. These DVRs are rarely patched, and outdated firmware versions can become easily exploited, especially when internet accessible.
(2) We Donít Need No Stinking Firewall
Do your properties have modern firewalls with up-to-date patches and monitoring? Consider yourself in the minority if you do. There are many properties that simply have an old consumer router that hasnít been patched in years, or possibly worse, just the box furnished by the internet provider. Those boxes do a fine job providing Internet connectivity, but provide zero control over traffic and lack basic or advanced monitoring capabilities. They donít include things like content filtering, advanced malware protection, and intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS). To add insult to injury, these providers by default openly advertise wireless access points that the public can attach to. Do you really want the public on your WiFi sucking up bandwidth and unmonitored for abuse? And if the cable company isnít trying to give away your WiFi, you can bet that someone inside has tried, which leads us to:
(3) Free WiFi for Everyone!
Wireless is a great advance which has transformed how we work over the last 20 years. But this convenience has created a completely new security challenge. Remember that engineer that briefly worked at your building last year? Well, he installed a $20 access point on your network so he could get internet while in the cafeteria. And now there are 50 people on your building network and you donít even know it. You would think something like this isnít very common, but with vendors and engineers coming and going over the years, the possibility is very real. We find these wireless access points hidden everywhere like cockroaches.
(4) Misbehaving Snack Machine
In the old days, a snack machine sat in a break room eating quarters and giving your tenants a quick sugar fix. No one carries quarters any longer, and your snack machine is now on the internet. Unfortunately, we have seen your snack machine Ė and it has malware on it. Worse, itís on your building network next to your unpatched energy management system from 2005. Better contact that vendor (who doesnít specialize in security either), because the bad guys are swiping credit card numbers from your tenants, and youíre about to have a PR nightmare on your hands.
(5) The Public PC
You hope that you have hired vendors that are savvy about security. But the guy installing your access control or DVR system is not necessarily a networking guru/security expert. Recently we found a PC that the vendor decided needed to be completely on the Internet with its own public IP address (no firewall). We donít know if the malware on this PC came directly from the internet, from the engineer browsing the web, or simple email malware. There are so many ways (or threat vectors) this PC could have been compromised that it didnít stand a chance. And to save money, this one PC had energy management, access control, and general office work all happening on its infected self. If that malware had remote control capability, hackers could have easily caused building environment issues, locked out the scan cards, and stolen the access control list of everyone with a badge. If that had happened, cleaning up the mess could be far more expensive than having a secure architecture in the first place.
Itís Not Too Late
We hope your corporate environment doesnít have these issues. These problems are, unfortunately, all too typical in the commercial building sector. But you can get ahead of your cybersecurity threats with some planning and detective work. Your best bet is to schedule a comprehensive walkthrough of your building Ė identifying your vulnerabilities is the first step in building a plan of attack to close the holes in your building security. Once you have your plan, at least you will know if you are vulnerable to the next Wannacry or Petya attack.
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Commercial Real Estate Digital Transformation - Managing the Change - 1/18/2018
The Commercial Real Estate and the Technology industries operate at very different speeds. Real estate is long-term, slow moving, and relies on practices that have been refined over the last 50 years. Tech, on the other hand, moves at lightning speed with constant updates and innovation. This webinar will focus on the extraordinary change management required to digitally transform a commercial real estate organization. Executive sponsorship, accelerated collaboration, dual strategies and other programs that will best enable this transformation will be addressed. In addition to operational changes impacted by tech, the webinar will also cover techís influences on other industriesí business models and how that affects the way we use space.
Founder of Realcomm Conference Group, an education organization that produces Realcomm, IBcon and CoRE Tech, the world's leading conferences on technology, automated business solutions, intelligent buildings and energy efficiency for the commercial and corporate real estate industry. As CEO, Jim interacts with some of the largest companies globally pertaining to some of the most advanced and progressive next generation real estate projects under development.
Bob Rybak Is the CIO at Morguard, a leading Real Estate Investment and Property Management firm based in Toronto, Canada. Bob has been an IT professional, entrepreneur and frequent consultant for almost three decades, working in both the public and private sectors. A graduate of the University of Toronto with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Bob's professional experience has spanned many different companies in a wide range of industries.
Sandy Jacolow joined Silverstein Properties in 2011 as Chief Information Officer, a role in which he oversees the technology initiatives that support the company's financial, operations and development, including the World Trade Center, and Silver Suites activities. Sandy has been active in the real estate industry for nearly 35 years with a focus on the institutional advisory, property management and brokerage markets.
Alex Stanton has over 20 years working with in the real estate application space. Currently as VP of Solution Consulting for Yardi Systems, he leads the solution presales team, who work with customers and prospects to explore how to address business needs. Alexís recent areas of focus has been to work with clients on the real estate specific applications of cloud, mobile, 'big data' and energy.
Marc Petock is a pioneer in leading the Intelligent/Smart Buildings and M2M movements pushing the industry forward and has contributed to transforming and changing the Intelligent Buildings and M2M (now IoT) industries. As VP, Marketing for both Lynxspring and its sister company, Connexx Energy, heleads corporate and product marketing, strategy, brand management, PR and communications that support the companyís strategic and growth initiatives. Previously, Marc was VP, Global Marketing and Communications at Tridium. Marc is also a contributing author, noted speaker and recognized industry leader having earned several industry accolades. He serves on the board of directors of Connexx Energy and Project Haystack; is an advisor to the Realcomm and a contributing editor to automatedbuildings.com.
Dave Clute has been AEC/FM/IT Design Professional for over 35 years. He spent 10 years at Cisco Systems and 5 years at Zurich Insurance before he joined ESD in 2017. Dave is currently leading the Intelligent Building Practice for ESD Global.
Scott Sidman has 14 years of CRE technology experience leading sales and marketing efforts. He is responsible for supporting company growth goals and assuring company and product direction aligns with market needs as well as leads. Scott is CRE tech evangelist and host of a CRE Tech Talks podcast.