The rise in connected buildings has exposed operational technology (OT) and industrial control systems (ICS) to various cyberthreats. Improving cybersecurity for active technology systems has become a top priority to facility managers lately. According to research from Honeywell, 7 in 10 (71%) facility managers consider OT cybersecurity a severe security concern.
The research “Protecting Operational Technology in Facilities from Cyber Threats: Constraints and Realities” revealed that only 44% of companies currently have a cybersecurity solution in place to protect their OT systems from potential threats. Nearly 33% plan to invest in OT cybersecurity products over the next 12 to 18 months.
In general, OT systems monitor, control, and protect processes and operational environments from potential threats. If not secured, connected building equipment like HVAC, building management, and security systems could become entry points for threat actors.
“Cybersecurity conversations often focus only on IT and safeguarding data and assets, but OT cybersecurity is just as critical when you think of the potential effects. Imagine an entire data center team being denied building access or a hospital that can’t properly manage airflow in critical areas. A building’s OT environment should be monitored and maintained as rigorously as an IT system. Still, often the importance of practicing strong cyber and digital hygiene in OT systems is overlooked and underfunded,” said Mirel Sehic, global director cybersecurity, Honeywell Building Technologies.
- 27% of facility managers have experienced a security breach in their OT systems in 12 months.
- Around 66% of respondents view managing OT cybersecurity as one of their most challenging responsibilities.
- Over 56% of respondents are currently more willing to invest in safety-focused solutions (including OT cybersecurity) than they were before the onset of the pandemic.
The research findings are based on the responses of facility managers across the U.S., Germany, and China in the education, health care, data center, and commercial real estate sectors.
“While the survey findings indicate that facility managers understand the importance of OT cybersecurity, they lack sufficient, consistent investments to protect their buildings and assets fully. The impact of cyber incidents can go beyond financial loss; operational and reputational damage can be equally critical, if not more so. As more building owners understand the potential effect of an OT attack on operations and infrastructure, facility managers will be in a better position to make smart buying decisions and heighten cyber resilience across OT environments,” Sehic added.