Smart building systems come under attack

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More than a quarter (26.5%)  of computers used to control smart building automation systems were subject to a malicious attack in the first half of 2019.

This was revealed by a study on smart building threats conducted by Kaspersky. While it remains unclear if such systems were deliberately targeted, they often become a destination for various generic threats. 

According to Kaspersky, smart building automation systems typically consist of sensors and controllers used to monitor and automate the operation of elevators, ventilation, climate controls, electricity and water supplies, fire alarms, video surveillance, access controls and similar  critical information and security systems. 

“These systems are generally managed and controlled via generic workstations, which are often connected to the Internet. A successful attack against such a workstation can easily result in the failure of one or several critically important smart building systems,” the company said.

Of the 26.5% protected smart building systems management computers that were targeted, almost 12% were attacked with spyware or malware aimed at stealing account credentials and other valuable information. Worms were detected on 20.6%, and another 5.9% of workstations encountered ransomware.

Most threats (23.5%) came from the Internet, while removable media, including flash sticks, external hard drives and others, were responsible in 17.6% of the cases. Another 8.8% faced threats that came via e-mail links and attachments.

Kirill Kruglov, security researcher at Kaspersky ICS CERT, says although the figures are relatively low when compared to the wider threat landscape, they should not be underestimated. 

“Imagine if credentials from a highly secured building are stolen by a generic piece of malware and then sold on the black market. Or a sophisticated building’s life support system is frozen because essential processes have been encrypted by yet another ransomware strain,” he says. 

In order to protect a smart building from the risks of cyber attack, Kaspersky experts advise that smart building IT infrastructure is protected with a reliable security solution tailored to specific Industrial Control Systems (ICS) environments, and to conduct regular security audits of smart building IT infrastructure to identify and eliminate possible vulnerabilities. Finally, the company says up-to-date threat intelligence will help the security team protect smart infrastructure.


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