Why a Building Mgmt System Needs OT Cybersecurity

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A building management system (BMS) is a computer-aided system used to control and monitor the environment of a building. The BMS can be used to manage and control the heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, security, and other systems. The main purpose of a BMS is to optimize the performance of the building, minimize energy consumption, and enhance the experience of the occupants.

A BMS is, thus, a crucial part of any modern building. That being said, a BMS can also be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Failure to properly secure a BMS can result in loss of control of the systems it manages, as well as data breaches and other types of cyberattacks. This can lead to a loss of life, financial damage and reputational harm.

Here are six reasons why OT cybersecurity is essential for a building management system:

1. BMSs Are Connected to the Internet and Can Be Accessed Remotely

Building Management Systems are generally connected to the internet to be monitored and controlled remotely. This means that they are potential targets for cyberattacks. Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in the BMS to gain access to the building’s systems and data. They can then use this access to disable the BMS, causing widespread disruption.

For instance, suppose a hacker gains access to the BMS. They can then disable the security devices, making it easy for them to break into the building. Similarly, they can tamper with the energy and gas meters, resulting in higher bills for the building’s occupants.

2. BMSs Control Critical Infrastructures, Such as HVAC and Lighting Systems

BMSs are responsible for controlling critical infrastructures, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. If these systems are compromised, it could seriously impact the safety of the occupants of the building.

For example, if an attacker could gain control of the HVAC system, they could raise the temperature to an unsafe level, leading to potentially serious health consequences. Similarly, they could turn off the lights, making it difficult for people to evacuate the building in an emergency.

Thus, it is essential to protect BMSs from cyberattacks to ensure the safety of building occupants. One of the easiest ways to do it is by employing an OT security vendor specializing in providing comprehensive cybersecurity solutions for BMSs.

If you are unfamiliar with the term “OT security,” you can refer to an OT cybersecurity online guide, which will explain everything you need to know about OT cybersecurity. It includes information on the different types of OT security solutions and how they can be used to protect industrial control systems, including BMSs, from cyberattacks.

3. BMSs Often Contain Sensitive Information

BMSs often contain sensitive information, such as building layout diagrams. This information could be used by criminals to plan a physical break-in or by terrorists to plan an attack. 

In addition, BMSs often contain information on the building’s occupants, such as their names, addresses, and contact details.

This information could be used for malicious purposes like identity theft or fraud. For example, an attacker could use the contact details to send phishing emails to the building’s occupants. Additionally, they can use the information to target the occupants with tailored advertising or spam.

Thus, it is important to protect the information stored in BMSs from unauthorized access. Otherwise, it could be used to cause serious tangible and intangible losses.

4. Legacy Systems Often Control Them

BMSs are often controlled by legacy systems designed before the internet was invented. These legacy systems are often not equipped with modern security features, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

As a result, they are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. For example, the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 exploited a vulnerability in the Windows XP operating system, which is a legacy system.

To protect BMSs from such attacks, it is important to ensure they are properly secured with robust OT cybersecurity solutions. Such solutions will help to detect and prevent cyberattacks, even if a legacy system controls the BMS.

5. BMSs Are Used to Control Access to Buildings

BMSs are often used to control access to buildings. For example, they are used to operate electronic door locks. If an attacker gains access to the BMS, they can open the door locks and gain unauthorized access to the building.

Similarly, the attacker can disable the security cameras, making it easier for them to break into the building or commit a crime. For instance, they can disable the security cameras in a parking garage and then steal vehicles. Thus, to avoid such security breaches, it is important to ensure that the BMS is properly secured. If not, it could pose a serious security risk.

6. BMSs Are Usually Controlled by a Central Management System

If a cyberattack compromises a BMS, it could have serious consequences. For example, an attacker could gain control of the HVAC system and cause the temperature to rise or fall, which could be dangerous for occupants. An attacker could also use the BMS to gain access to the building or steal sensitive information.

Moreover, suppose the BMS is integrated with other systems, such as security cameras or access control systems. In that case, a cyberattacker could use the BMS to bypass security measures and gain unauthorized access to the building.

OT cybersecurity is, therefore, essential for protecting BMSs from cyberattacks. Building owners can help protect their BMSs from cyber threats by implementing strong security measures.

To ensure hassle-free and the highest degree of safety for your BMS, it is important to collaborate with an OT security provider that can offer comprehensive solutions. These might include firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention system, and continuous monitoring.

Conclusion

A building management system (BMS) is vital to any modern building. It allows building owners and operators to manage and control various aspects of their buildings, such as the heating, ventilation, and access control systems.

If left unsecured, a BMS can be exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to buildings or commit other crimes. Thus, ensuring that your BMS is properly secured with OT cybersecurity solutions is important.

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