The digital world is offering a wealth of opportunities for the construction and real estate sectors to improve productivity and streamline what were once time-consuming manual tasks. But as these technologies embed themselves into the core of businesses’ daily operations – and develop in significance as a result – the threat of cyber security and the destruction it poses to a company mounts. So how do we drive the implementation of technology whilst ensuring increasingly valuable asset information remains safe?
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The number of high-profile cyber security attacks is, inevitably, growing in this digital climate. It was only a matter of weeks ago that the Travelex boss broke his silence 17 days after a cyber-attack, which held the foreign exchange company to ransom. Although data was thankfully not lost, it was still compromised, putting customer and client data at risk.
To add fuel to the fire, two thirds of private companies in the UK admit to having been subject to some sort of cyber-attack in the past 12 months, placing well over half a billion precious data records in jeopardy.
Internal vs. external hosting
The convention for many years was to have data and software stored on a computer’s hard-drive, or on a corporate network managed by an organisation’s central servers. However, in industries such as construction where workers are onsite, employees wouldn’t have had access to a corporate network. Therefore, making the software available via the internet was very appealing: freeing many businesses from locking themselves into software applications and enabling site workers to access the same systems and documents anytime, anywhere.
Although hosting data internally had many attractions, it was clear that its reach and capability fell short and was not delivering enterprise-strength IT. As such, external hosting has become the norm and with this the levels of security have increased. Solutions such as GroupBC’s Common Data Environment (CDE) for example provide a high level of security; preventing physical, unauthorised access to server racks and impeding viruses, hackers and attacks. This platform is managed by hosting specialist, Secura, which delivers content security, monitoring and user privileges to reflect the needs of GroupBC customers.
The importance of secure building information: digital twins
We are in an age where project and asset information has to be safely accessed by all, in order for projects to be delivered on time and to budget. Digital twins in particular are optimising the operation and maintenance of physical assets, systems and processes, and enabling the bridge between ‘as built’ and ‘in operation’.
Retaining huge amounts of precious data comes with risk, however. If a digital twin is left unmanaged, companies open themselves up to the threat of cyber-attack, network hack and data theft, enabling malicious individuals to gain access to the physical asset and its connected ‘twin’. To ensure digital twins remain safe, organisations would do well to highlight the party or parties responsible for the management of the digital twin and ensure that steps are in place to ward off any threats.
With a clear desire to fully embrace external hosting and digital estates, industries now have a responsibility to ensure cyber security is a priority for everyone within a business. Asset information is perhaps the most precious commodity, and so industries must do all they can to prevent themselves from being vulnerable to a perilous cyber-attack.