Keeping data safe in a digitalised world

Posted by Paul Gray on 07/02/2020

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Keeping data safe in a digitalised world

Paul Gray, our Head of Key Accounts, looks at data security and cyber threats to project and asset information

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?

Click here to register for our upcoming cyber security webinar

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.

What’s next? 
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. 

The benefits of digitisation are multiple, yet in order for it to be a true success it has to be managed properly. If appropriate measures go unheeded, we may find ourselves in a ‘one step forward, two step backwards’ scenario, and we cannot allow this to happen. Digitisation is a key part of the industry’s future, and we need to make sure we get there safely and securely. 

Click here to register for our upcoming cyber security webinar

GroupBC security webinar 
To provide further guidance on the importance of cyber security and the methods companies can adopt to keep cyber threats at bay, GroupBC will be holding a webinar entitled: ‘Protecting digital asset data from cyber threats’ on 11th February 2020 at 09.30am. Along with experts from Secura and cyber service consultants, PA Consulting, we will examine the technological options to support good business practices and the question of data sovereignty. Three companies each offering different skills, capabilities and services in this area, will seek to set you thinking about what you and your colleagues should be doing to make sure your organisation is not the next one to suffer damage to your hard won reputation. 

About the panellists 
Tim Ogle from PA Consulting: Tim leads innovation consultancy’s, PA Consulting, cyber security services business, which provides a wide range of proactive and reactive cyber services, ranging from penetration testing and forensic investigation to incident response and everything in between. As an experienced business transformation practitioner, Tim helps to bring the most value from technology by ensuring that the people, processes and governance are all aligned to maximise benefits. He brings experience from across a wide range of industries covering information security, engineering, IT services and financial services.
Anthony Doncaster from Secura: With over 15 years’ experience in the hosting industry, Anthony has a deep knowledge of virtualisation and security for private, public and hybrid cloud infrastructures. ISO 27017, 9001 and 20000 certified Secura is a critical hosting specialist which specialises in providing hosting applications for organisations which need to ensure data security and integrity, and also provide cloud services across a range of platforms. 
Paul Gray from GroupBC: GroupBC stretches the boundaries of technology, integrating project and asset data with external systems and datasets to provide valuable insights which enable stronger decision making. With customers including Balfour Beatty, Costain, Heathrow Airport, HS2 and University of Birmingham, GroupBC’s common data environment (CDE) enables its customers to collaborate, manage and share documents, data and spatial information from a central, secure cloud-based platform.