Cybersecurity is a major concern for almost every industry, with each industry dealing with its own unique risks. For the construction industry, cybersecurity – and the lack thereof – can affect every part of the business process. Security breaches can lead to disruptions in the supply chain, delays in project schedules, and risks to worker safety. As the industry comes to rely more and more on digital technology, it must also adapt to the risks that inevitably come with these technologies. The following offers an overview of the cybersecurity risks that many construction companies now face, as well as some tips and guidelines for preventing and responding to incidents.
Not too long ago, construction companies only had to deal with security issues involving the theft of materials and equipment from worksites. While this is undoubtedly still a problem, threat actors have found something that could be far more valuable than copper pipes.
The industry is making increasing use of digital tools to deal with matters like suppliers, scheduling, job monitoring and workplace health and safety. Many, perhaps most transactions have shifted from handshakes and carbon-copy forms to the digital realm.
Many construction transactions involve multiple parties, which offers ample opportunities for hackers and other malicious actors to look for weaknesses in a system. Anyone who makes it into a system could find vast amounts of proprietary and otherwise confidential business data, not to mention personally identifiable information (PII) from customers, employees and others.
Ransomware is another growing threat that could affect construction companies. The term refers to malware that can encrypt the entire contents of a device. A threat actor may then demand a “ransom” payment in order to decrypt the device. Ransomware attacks can shut down entire networks, leading to serious delays, lost productivity and safety hazards.
Few regulations or standards exist that address the construction industry’s cybersecurity concerns. This has left many businesses unprepared for the risks and ill-equipped to respond to incidents.
Construction businesses can take several steps to mitigate the risks of cyber-breaches and other incidents, and to respond effectively to an incident should one occur.
A proactive approach to cybersecurity can help prevent cyberattacks and other security breaches before they occur.
Construction companies should create both internal and external teams responsible for responding to cyberattacks and data breaches. An internal response team might include representatives from management, IT, HR and in-house counsel. An external team could consist of investigators, cybersecurity experts, PR professionals and outside counsel.
Once companies have designated their response teams, they should prepare plans of action for the teams to implement. The plans should be detailed, but should also allow the teams enough flexibility to adapt to particular situations. The plans should take numerous factors into account, such as:
The best plans in the world will be of no use if the entire team does not know how to implement them. Construction companies should educate every employee, independent contractor and intern on their role in maintaining cybersecurity protections. Everyone, for example, should know:
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