"Cyber security is one of the most important concerns of our age. We live in an era that is completely different from all in the past, as advanced technologies such as smart phones have entered various aspects of our lives," said Majeed Al Mesmar, acting director-general of the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
"As technology has brought prosperity and progress to the lives of millions of people, it has led to serious security risks," Al Mesmar added, speaking at the 'Cyber Defence Live' conference in Dubai. "There is no signs these risks will diminish."
To demonstrate this point, Al Mesmar highlighted recent statistics that indicate that cyber crimes are expected to cost the world $6 trillion by 2021, compared to $3 trillion just a year ago. Another report, from IT analysts Gartner, estimated that the increased risk led spending in cyber security will reach $80 billion in 2016 - but regardless of how much is spent on security, hackers will develop their methods and attacks will still take place.
“Security breaches are inevitable and will happen as attackers grow more sophisticated and target societies in which more and more devices are interconnected. It's going to get a lot worse than it is today," says Tony Cole, vice-president for global government at FireEye. "As the awareness level rises, we see more information about breaches, simply because people are starting to look for that. Those breaches have been here all along," he added.
Nowhere is this more true than in smart buildings. In fact, commercial buildings have become the highest users of IoT technology, according to Gartner, and our own research. While cyber security will remain a crucial first line of defence for buildings trying to stop damaging attacks, we must also accept the inevitability of attacks and take measures to limit their impact on smart buildings and the organizations that manage them.
Coalition, a technology-enabled cyber insurance solution firm, recently announced the first cyber insurance offering specifically designed to address emerging risks facing real estate developers, property managers, and other businesses across the real estate industry. "Over one billion IoT devices and sensors will be installed in commercial buildings by the end of 2018. So called "smart buildings” offer enormous safety and productivity benefits, but also come with new security risks," said Joshua Motta, Founder & CEO of Coalition.
"As buildings are transformed into enormous computer systems, it is no longer inconceivable that cyber criminals could gain access to and control HVAC, sprinkler, and refrigeration systems, or other mechanical processes. If not properly protected, unauthorized access of these systems could expose building owners and their occupants to risks of data breach, bodily harm, property damage, and even pollution,” said Motta.
Their offering is backed up by the financial strength of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Argo Group, meaning Coalition can provide a full suite of cyber security apps and up to US$10 million of comprehensive cyber insurance coverage to businesses across the real estate industry. Features of the ‘Coalition for Real Estate’ include:
* Risk Assessment: Coalition's underwriting platform utilizes tens of thousands of data points to assess the risk surface of a company or smart building in a matter of minutes, including a review of exposed Internet-connected IoT devices. Risk assessments are made available to all clients, and include remediation assistance.
* Coalition Apps Platform: All policies include a number of cyber security tools such as the Threat Monitor App, which identifies and alerts customers to new IoT devices on their properties and networks that are exposed on the Internet, and the Patch Monitor App, which scans for out-of-date software, and alerts customers when new vulnerabilities, updates, and patches are announced.
* Security expertise: Coalition's team of security specialists is available to proactively assist policyholders, and to help ensure resiliency in the event of a cyber security failure.
“Smart buildings promise significant benefits to owners and operators in terms of efficiency, safety, comfort and functionality, but these systems also carry potential costs, as without the right levels of protection, they can act as tempting targets for would-be hackers and or malicious insiders,” suggests our recent report ‘Cyber Security in Smart Commercial Buildings 2017 to 2021’.
These unprecedented benefits and associated risks are the stark reality of smart buildings and the wider Internet of Things. We are already well on the way to a smarter world where connected devices in smart buildings within intelligent cities are making our lives more efficient, productive, healthy and environmentally friendly. However, our rush to realise these benefits are accelerating and amplifying the vulnerabilities that come from connectivity. Security is vital but protecting ourselves against the inevitable occurrence of attacks is also a reality of this new world.
“Unfortunately, the state of the world is that nothing is or will ever be 100 percent secure, no one can defend themselves 100 percent of the time and, when something bad happens, we’re each left to pick up the pieces,” says Motta, who believes insurance to be the primary, but not exclusive, solution to cyber risk.
“Despite over $90 billion of annual spending by consumers and businesses on cyber security to defend themselves, the problem is only growing. This year cyber attacks and technology failures are expected to trigger over $1 trillion in recovery costs globally,” he continued. “Not only is technology not solving the problem, often times technology is the problem.”