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 These DVRs are rarely patched, and outdated firmware versions can become easily exploited, especially when internet accessible.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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UPCOMING REALCOMM WEBINARS
Commercial and Corporate Real Estate Cyber Risk - Developing a Comprehensive Strategy - 10/25/2018
Hardly a day goes by that we donít hear about a Cyber breach. The most recent of scale was Equifax, the credit reporting agency in which credit information of 143 million of its clients was breached. While most of the incidents we hear about involve data or financial theft, there is a looming threatÖour built infrastructure. This infrastructure includes everything from power plants to dams, but also includes the millions of buildings we use every day to work, shop, learn, recreate, manage our health and more. The threats range from unwanted building access to pirating of video surveillance and everything in between. This webinar will focus on the entire spectrum of Commercial and Corporate Real Estate cyber challenges, solutions and strategies.
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.
Tom Shircliff is a co-founder and principal of Intelligent Buildings, a nationally recognized smart real estate professional services company that was started in 2004. Intelligent Buildings provides planning and implementation of next generation strategy for new buildings, existing portfolios and urban communities. Tom is a speaker and collaborator with numerous universities and national laboratories, a gubernatorial appointee for energy strategy and policy and founding Chairman of Envision Charlotte, a Clinton Global Initiative.
As CIO at Meridian Capital, Sandy Jacolow oversees the firmís nationwide innovation and technology initiatives that support the companyís brokerage, investment sales and retail leasing businesses and growth activities.
Ron Victor is a Silicon Valley based technology entrepreneur with 20 years of experience and expertise launching new ventures at start-ups and fortune 1000 technology companies. To-date he has enabled raising more than $30Million in start-up capital for multiple start-ups in silicon-valley. Ron has founded and led three companies to-date with successful exits. His latest venture is IoTium Inc. Ė a Silicon Valley start-up that provides a secure, cloud-managed, easy-to-deploy software defined network infrastructure for all IoT verticals.
Coleman Wolf has extensive experience developing enterprise-wide access control and alarm monitoring systems, developing business analyses, and conducting detailed security surveys and assessments of corporate offices, power generation plants, and facilities related to national critical infrastructure. Coleman has also managed numerous security system installation and upgrade projects. He holds a Master of Science, Computer Information Systems degree from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Michigan. He is also CPP (Certified Protection Professional) and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). Coleman also holds the following Professional / Civic Affiliations: ASIS (Member of American Society for Industrial Security), Chairman of the ASIS Information Technology Security Council, and is an active member of the ASIS Security Architecture and Engineering Council.