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Remote hacking - intelligent buildings and cybersecurity.


Technology accompanies us in almost every aspect of daily life. The rapid technological development is a tremendous facilitation for humanity, improving task execution, saving time, and providing greater comfort. It's no wonder that modern solutions are also used in the construction industry. Smart buildings allow for automation and control of important processes for the user. However, besides the undeniable benefits, it's also worth paying attention to the dangers associated with smart buildings. The more technological solutions accompany a particular property, the more vulnerabilities hackers can identify. Check out the article to learn about the relationship between smart buildings and cybersecurity.


Smart Buildings - What Are They?


Smart buildings are properties that rely on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. The individual devices within the building communicate with each other and exchange information to ensure maximum functionality. This collaboration automates the course of many processes to best serve the user's needs.


Which systems are included in a smart building? There are many of them, and their final selection depends on the designers or users. However, the most commonly used intelligent solutions include: monitoring systems, alarm systems, lighting, air conditioning, heating, water consumption, anti-intrusion systems, electrical devices, parking systems, fire protection systems, and elevator management. Each of these elements can be remotely controlled, even from outside the building itself.

Smart buildings provide tremendous convenience, so it's no wonder that their popularity is constantly growing. More and more offices, shopping malls, airports, and hotels are being built based on the Internet of Things. For example, imagine such an office. The system ensures that every element, including lighting and temperature, is perfectly adjusted to the needs of the human body, creating optimal conditions in the office. Moreover, some features improve communication and save time. As a result, employees become more efficient, maximizing profits and minimizing losses. Additionally, the owner can program individual rooms so that only selected individuals have access. This solution ensures the security of crucial company data.


Smart Buildings and Cyber Threats


As you can see, smart building technology brings enormous benefits. However, it's important not to forget about the threats to the owner and users. Systems in smart buildings are usually connected to the internet, making them vulnerable to cybercriminal activity, including malware infections. Sometimes, all it takes is for an attacker to breach the security of one system component to gain access to the rest of the network. This means control over the entire building.


The number of such properties is constantly increasing, which makes the threat more and more real. Currently, 84% of building automation systems are connected to the internet. Furthermore, according to Cisco estimates, by 2025, as much as 75% of new buildings will be smart buildings.

Kaspersky reports that nearly 40% of smart building systems were subject to some form of cyber attack in 2019, most commonly ransomware or spyware. Approximately 26% of threats originated from the internet, 10% from phishing messages, and 10% from portable storage devices.

If there is only one weakness in a complex system of interconnected elements that a hacker can exploit, things can turn ugly. How the attacker will leverage the newly obtained access depends solely on them. It is worth mentioning the example of Amazon's smart speaker, Echo, used in many modern buildings. One might think that gaining control over a speaker would not have particularly serious consequences, right?

However, it turned out differently. In 2017, cybercriminals gained access to such devices and turned them into spying microphones. This allowed them to eavesdrop on everything happening in the entire building.


Cybercrime in a smart building - what may happen?


A hacker who gains access to a smart building system can change and control selected parameters as they please, causing chaos. In November 2016, a DDoS attack led to the shutdown of heating and hot water supply control computers in two smart apartment buildings in Finland. This lasted for over two days, with an average temperature of 4 degrees Celsius.

In 2021, hackers managed to penetrate the automation system of an office building in Germany. As a result of the attack, the company was completely cut off from the system. Several hundred devices throughout the building stopped working! This included motion sensors, lighting, and window blinds. Each of these elements had to be manually controlled until the issue was fixed, which took several weeks.

Compromising the security of even one element in a smart building system has very serious consequences. If hackers deploy spyware, they gain access to a wealth of sensitive business data (including account credentials), as well as personal data of customers or employees of the building's occupant company. They can sell the obtained information on the black market or use it for extortion.

When criminals gain control of a building, they have the freedom to manage almost all parameters, leading to a significant deterioration in user comfort. This negatively impacts productivity, including complete business disruptions – for example, it's challenging to work in an office where the air conditioning or lighting stops functioning. Disruptions in workflow lead to missed deadlines, resulting in reduced company profits, customer dissatisfaction, loss of market credibility, and even financial penalties and legal proceedings.


A hacker with access to a smart building system can also pose a real threat to human life or health. For instance, they can disable fire safety systems or block exits and elevators during an evacuation.


To enhance the security of a smart building and defend against hackers, watch a free webinar recording on cybersecurity in the real estate market. Additionally, it is crucial to conduct a free cybersecurity audit to identify vulnerabilities in the security measures. Regularly visiting our blog, fanpage, or LinkedIn profile, where we share useful information about cyber protection, is also highly recommended.

See you next time!

Sagenso Team

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