June 27, 2016

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Skills and Self-Awareness Are Keys to Installer Cyber Security Success

Having the right skills and the courage to challenge product manufacturers and suppliers on poor data security features will play an increasingly important role in determining success the new cyber security solutions market.

A new world of connected devices and converged networks presents multiple challenges for installers and systems integrators at the sharp end of customer demand.

Gaining the trust of companies who cannot afford the financial and reputational damage which cyber attacks and data privacy breaches can inflict on them is paramount.

Inherent security weaknesses in low-level building management, air conditioning or access-control systems can open up vulnerabilities in the mission critical data systems to which they are connected for example – one reason why installers must make sure the solutions they install are watertight.

“Wherever we sit in the supply chain, in the interconnected ecosystem that is the Internet of Things, there is potential impact on everything else,” explained Mike Gillespie, a security consultant at AdventIM (and #14 on our recent rundown of the top 50 most influential in security and fire) speaking at IFSEC International in London last week.

“CCTV, access control, air conditioning, building fabric systems – they all have the potential to be connected to critical national infrastructure (CNI) and an attack on them can ultimately enable an attack on banks, water processing plants and nuclear facilities.”

Gillespie offered advice for installers struggling to come to terms with this new world, urging them to ‘push back’ on their suppliers and product manufacturers to demonstrate their systems were adequately protected against cyber attack, data loss and unauthorised access.

“I know there are products going out today which use out of data network protocols and that should not be good enough for us in the installer community,” he said. “We need them to say to us ‘this is as secure as it could possibly be’, otherwise it’s a duff product from the start.”

Installers must also make a frank and honest assessment of the cyber security skill sets within their organisation and take steps to fill in any gaps – either through recruitment or training.

They must learn the language of data security and inspire confidence by talking to clients in a knowledgeable and capable way whilst simultaneously offering proven, certified solutions that guarantee a minimum, base standard of data security.

“This is a commercial opportunity that can be used as a unique selling point,” said Gillespie. “Installers have the opportunity to shape the direction of this by engaging with their supply base, manufacturers and channel partners and saying ‘we will only take this if you can prove to me it is s secure product’.”

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