There is a lot of buzz about Smart Buildings at the moment. The Internet of Things (IoT) is making it easier and cheaper to connect all the devices and systems within a work facility or the home, to give people greater control. But open systems also bring with them potential risks of security breaches, so it’s worth bearing in mind the need for vigilance that comes with Smart Buildings!
Greater Control and Convenience
Undoubtedly, the real draw to Smart Buildings is the ability to connect with and manage all these different systems from one place – be that onsite or potentially anywhere in the world. Many systems utilise a smartphone or tablet app, which gives you control over everything that is on the network – from the most complex security system right down to a kettle! If the device can be networked it can be accessed remotely.
It’s not hard to see the appeal of this. In a workplace, an operator can oversee all the systems in a facility (or number of facilities) and ensure everything is working perfectly. In the home, it is rapidly becoming possible to control domestic items remotely – including the central heating, kitchen appliances and your Smart TV or entertainment system. In a connected world, it’s what we have all come to expect!
The security industry has embraced IoT and Smart Buildings technology as well. It makes perfect sense to use an IP connection to link various security systems, such as CCTV, Access Control, intruder alarms and fire detection sensors. Integrated security systems have revolutionised the sector and made it possible (and preferable) to link all these systems together.
Any kind of incident (such as an intruder, theft or emergency) can be monitored and managed by one team or individual to ensure it is addressed and resolved swiftly and effectively.
The worry for security teams is when the systems they use, share a network with a wider range of IoT devices. Security systems (by their very nature) are built upon complete trust of each other. If you start including any (and every) IoT enabled device, it is much harder to trust all parts of the network. As any security expert will tell you, a network is only as secure as its weakest points!
Think about the business or home network, if it were compromised an intruder could gain access to any data stored there. As well as important records, a compromised network could even offer access to the security systems themselves!
If a criminal could gain access to the network’s security, they could potentially use the surveillance systems to ‘spy’ on the building itself – perhaps ascertaining when key assets are unattended or even looking at computer screens or sensitive written information that is in view.
Finding the Right Balance
It’s important not to lose sight of the benefits of Smart Buildings. Security will always be a concern but it needs perspective. Having additional networked devices can actually be an asset to security – these ‘sensors’ can add extra detail to benefit situational security systems.
Undoubtedly, Smart Buildings require more cooperation throughout an organisation when it comes to security. The IT, operations and security teams all need to be involved with network choices and to ensure everything works smoothly.
For many security managers, it would suit them well to limit the devices on a network! But that goes against the ethos and considerable benefits of Smart Buildings. Security needs to be flexible but still vigilant to ensure Smart Buildings offer all the benefits whilst protecting the people that use them.