Cybersecurity Implications of IT/OT Convergence in Smart Buildings

By Larry O'Brien

Technology Trends

Today’s smart buildings are an increasingly diverse combination of sensors, control systems, networks, and applications. This diverse blend of technologies also creates increased convergence between the worlds of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). At the operational level, building automation systems (BAS) have traditionally been proprietary in nature using a limited number of built-for-purpose networking technologies. Adoption of the IoT in today’s smart buildings has created a new landscape that eliminates barriers between IT and OT technology. The use of edge computing devices, the cloud, IP-based technologies is fundamentally changing the way that today’s smart buildings are monitored, controlled, and optimized. 

Advanced Technologies Equal More Advanced Cybersecurity Challenges

All of this advanced technology and capability, however, creates increased cybersecurity concerns and risks. Things like asset visibility and secure remote access become more important. End users need to know if their environment is unknowingly open to the outside world and they must monitor access, enumeration, and suspicious traffic. Many smart building vendors and suppliers do not have the required resources to fully address cybersecurity risks and may not be as knowledgeable about best practices. 

Smart Building Owners and Operators Realize the Value of Cybersecurity

Many smart building owners and operators realize the value of a good cybersecurity strategy for interconnected systems and IP-enabled devices for building operations. Convergence creates the need for a more advanced view of cybersecurity that provides a unified and holistic approach to both IT and OT. 

Smart Building Technology Providers Align with Cybersecurity Providers

The increased focus on cybersecurity for smart buildings is already manifesting itself in new relationships between smart building technology vendors and leading cybersecurity providers with experience and capabilities in both the IT and OT space. One example is the partnership between cybersecurity provider Blackpoint Cyber and smart technology/building management provider Rycom Corporation. With the partnership, Blackpoint’s SNAP-Defense cybersecurity platform powers Rycom’s HIVE-Defence offering for commercial smart real estate and property technology (proptech) applications. More information about this partnership can be seen in this YouTube interview with Rycom president and CEO Casey Witkowicz and Blackpoint CEO Jon Murchison. The interview covers the rise of smart city technology and the need for an accurate up-to-date inventory of cyber assets, as well as the need to monitor and audit a wider range of products from a more diverse set of vendors. 

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