Honeywell Building Solutions Predicts 2020s Top Cybersecurity Trends for Buildings

    • Securing building operational systems will become a priority for many businesses as increased threats related to connected building technologies will likely arise.
    • The need to secure both Operational Technology (OT) and traditional Information Technology (IT) is expected to create demand for a new skillset and new type of security professional.

    BRUSSELS, Nov. 14, 2019 -- Honeywell (NYSE: HON) today released its predictions on emerging trends that will shape cybersecurity for buildings next year. Honeywell Building Solutions’ cybersecurity professionals identified insights and expected changes resulting from more open, connected and smart building systems, and provided advice on how businesses can better safeguard valuable assets against cyber threats as their facilities digitally transform.

    Mirel Sehic, global director of Cybersecurity for Honeywell Building Solutions, led a LinkedIn Live broadcast yesterday, Nov. 13, about cybersecurity for building Operational Technology (OT) at Honeywell’s Technology Day in Brussels. View the LinkedIn Live broadcast on the Honeywell LinkedIn Page.

    Four key predictions for 2020 include:

    1. Buildings will likely see an increase in cyber related threats as they become more connected, putting data, reputation and people at potentially greater risk.

    According to Gartner, buildings will account for 81% of all connected things in 2020. Still, connected buildings often remain a less-guarded entry point and cybersecurity has oftentimes not been a primary focus when managing Operational Technology (OT). Research from Accenture shows that online intruders are increasingly seeking to exploit this weakness, as security breaches have increased by 65% in the last five years. We expect this will continue in the years ahead, causing serious disruption.

    Sehic explains: “OT systems are, in some instances, being targeted to directly manipulate operations and as a bridge to IT data. For example, attacks on OT systems sometimes occur in hospitals and can lead to ransomware incidents, where staff are locked out of their computers. This can lead to issues such as delays in accessing patient files or even admitting patients, and when it takes 23 days on average to resolve a ransomware attack, this can be catastrophic.”

    1. Cybersecurity for OT is expected to become a key safety and security metric for many businesses in 2020 as digitization and the interconnectivity of systems potentially opens up new routes of access for cyberattacks.

    As buildings become smarter, they generally produce more and more connected data, and therefore oftentimes attract more potential threats. In fact, a CEB study found that nearly 20% of organizations with IoT networks have experienced at least one IoT-related attack already. As businesses experience more attacks and the resulting damage caused, many will likely develop new and more robust strategies to keep pace. We expect to see more preventative measures in the coming year, such as training focused on addressing potential cyber threats in OT and on conducting cybersecurity assessments to identify gaps.

    Sehic says: “Historically, we’ve often seen a serious lack of awareness and preparation around OT cybersecurity issues, but that’s starting to change. More attention and more budget is oftentimes being dedicated to furthering basic cyber hygiene upkeep and OT cybersecurity incident readiness – and we expect that to continue in 2020. But it’s typically not enough. Cybersecurity assessments must be carried out across a building’s OT infrastructure to identify gaps. Honeywell recently helped one of the world's largest financial services institutions better safeguard its assets, which included multiple buildings and thousands of employees. The team performed vulnerability testing, deploying advanced strategies for cybersecurity and creating a methodology for data management to help prevent leakage of valuable digital information.”

    1. Demand is expected to increase for a new type of security professional as OT and IT responsibilities often overlap.

    By 2021, IoT security service spending will more than double to nearly $2.1 billion, according to Gartner. As cyber threats evolve and the demand for OT cybersecurity grows, the role of the security professional is often changing. OT and IT functions have been increasingly working together to prepare for and respond to cyber-attacks, but in 2020 we will likely see more individual professionals with both OT and IT capabilities. These employees typically start their career in one function, but grow their skillset overtime as they gain more overarching security experience.

    Sehic says: “We’ve seen a lot of employees take action and actively develop new and broader abilities. It is becoming increasingly common for IT cybersecurity professionals to learn more about OT, as well as traditional OT engineers wanting to find out more and grow their skillsets in cybersecurity. At Honeywell Building Solutions, we recognized this emerging need and have been fostering a learning environment to expand our talent and cybersecurity workforce. We believe the industry will soon follow.”

    1. A global standard for cybersecurity is expected to become a top priority across industries.

    2020 will likely bring a greater focus to standardization for building cybersecurity, and we expect to see at least one framework emerge as a leading guide for securing a building’s OT system. “There are many different frameworks being discussed, making standardization an ambitious prospect,” says Sehic. “The move toward standardization will almost certainly gain traction globally in the year ahead. This year, Honeywell joined the Global Cybersecurity Alliance (GCA), created by the International Society of Automation (ISA), as a founding member to accelerate the development and adoption of cybersecurity standards.”

    Sehic concludes: “2020 will very likely be a transformative year for building technology as businesses make bigger strides toward securing their OT systems against increased cyber threats. Having the right skillsets to combat the rise of threats is becoming increasingly more important.”

    About Honeywell Building Technologies

    Honeywell Building Technologies (HBT) is a global business with more than 23,000 employees. HBT creates products, software and technologies found in more than 10 million buildings worldwide. Commercial building owners and occupants use our technologies to ensure their facilities are safe, energy efficient, sustainable and productive. For more news and information on Honeywell Building Technologies, visit https://www.honeywell.com/newsroom.

    Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) is a Fortune 100 technology company that delivers industry-specific solutions that include aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings and industry; and performance materials globally. Our technologies help aircraft, buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable. For more news and information on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywell.com/newsroom.

    Jessie Timmerman

    Building Technologies