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The war on cyber …

The war on cyber …

There is one thing cybersecurity experts can guarantee … no sorry, it’s not invincibility against an attack! It is, unfortunately, an assurance that cyberattacks – in their many shapes, forms, sizes and intensity – will continue for the foreseeable future, ad nauseum! But that doesn’t mean we have to take it sitting down. The cybersecurity world, and security professionals as well, need to continue to do their part to stay one step ahead of these cybercriminals, as well as sound the alarm to take action!

In our current News Poll (scroll down to bottom), we are asking you, our readers, to join the discussion on this important topic, and let us know what you are experiencing on both a company and customer level. We need to have each other’s backs here as we collectively raise our cyber game, so to speak, over the coming months and years.

Coincidentally, Honeywell released a report today that found improving cybersecurity for operational technology (OT) systems ranks as one of the top priorities for surveyed facility managers over the next 12 to 18 months. This is likely because more than 7 in 10 (71 percent) of surveyed facility managers consider OT cybersecurity “a concern or worry.” Moreover, respondents cite OT cybersecurity as the building improvement that would provide the greatest benefit to their stakeholders.

Surprisingly, only 44 percent of respondents currently have a cybersecurity solution in place to protect their OT systems from potential threats. Furthermore, only one-third (33 percent) plan to invest in OT cybersecurity products over the next 12 to 18 months.

Those are pretty sobering numbers! As these findings show, the almighty dollar plays a major factor in how quickly companies and organizations can pivot and protect themselves.

“Conversations about cybersecurity often only focus on IT and safeguarding data and assets, but OT cybersecurity is just as critical when you think of the potential effects. Imagine an entire data center team being denied building access or a hospital that can’t properly manage airflow in critical areas,” said Mirel Sehic, global director cybersecurity, Honeywell Building Technologies. “A building’s OT environment should be monitored and maintained as rigorously as an IT system, but oftentimes the importance of practicing strong cyber and digital hygiene in OT systems is overlooked and underfunded.”

The survey also found that more than 1 in 4 surveyed facility managers (27 percent) have experienced a cyber breach of their OT systems in the last 12 months, and 66 percent of respondents view managing OT cybersecurity as one of their most difficult responsibilities.

COVID-19, among other drivers, has prompted many respondents to adjust their near-term priorities. A majority (56 percent) are currently more willing to invest in safety-focused solutions (including OT cybersecurity) than they were before the onset of the pandemic.

“While the survey findings indicate that facility managers understand the importance of OT cybersecurity, they lack sufficient, consistent investments to fully protect their buildings and assets,” Sehic said. “The impact of cyber incidents can go beyond financial loss; operational and reputational damage can be equally critical, if not more so. As more building owners understand the potential effect of an OT attack on operations and infrastructure, facility managers will be in a better position to make smart buying decisions and heighten cyber resilience across OT environments.”

Sehic is spot on with these observations – It’s a war on cyber and we need to circle the wagons!


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