Cybersecurity Considerations for Construction Managers

Cybersecurity Considerations for Construction Managers

Cybercrime is one of the key threats to the contemporary business landscape. With more operations becoming digitally reliant, the issue is only going to become more prevalent. Not only does the greater uptake of connected tools make more companies targets for criminals, but hackers are also becoming bolder and more creative to better take advantage of the situation. The outcome for companies with vulnerabilities in their systems can be devastating.

For many construction managers, the potential for cybersecurity breaches isn’t a priority. Construction has an image of being a largely analog industry, which can make it seem as though businesses in this niche aren’t vulnerable to cybercrimes. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Construction has become a popular target for cybercrime. This is both due to more digital tools being utilized for construction work and the significant finances tied up in the industry. If managers are complacent because they believe their company isn’t vulnerable, they’re essentially assisting criminals.

So, what are the main cybersecurity considerations for construction managers? Let’s take a look at some core points of focus to help you protect your business.

Get to Know the Common Risks

There are a variety of security issues that plague virtually all industries. While you could encounter any of them, your time and resources are better spent focusing on the most common risks in your industry. Prioritize issues that are especially prevalent in construction business technology right now and build your security plan from there.

Some of the key areas to be aware of include:

Ransomware

There is a significant amount of money floating around in the construction business. There are certainly threats from direct interception of transactions, but this is increasingly difficult for hackers.

Instead, cybercriminals know that locking a company out of their essential technology and holding it for ransom is a more effective way to take money from businesses that want to mitigate disruption quickly. They use a specific type of malicious software called ransomware to do this. Often, the viruses containing ransomware are downloaded unwittingly by employees clicking on a suspicious link in an email or text message.

Insider Threats

Insider threats refer to cybersecurity threats that come from within your own organization — and they can be just as damaging as external threats. Employees (both current and former), freelancers, and third-party contractors all have legitimate access to sensitive data and information. They can either purposefully or unintentionally use that access to wreak havoc.

These threats can take various forms. For instance, an employee may deliberately steal valuable financial or operational data to sell to your competitors. Or instead, they may inadvertently cause your company to be vulnerable by not adhering to cybersecurity practices (such as not staying properly protected when using public Wi-Fi networks).

The Internet of Things

The connected ecosystem of digital items known as the Internet of Things (IoT) is an increasing presence on construction sites. This can be used in everything from digitally tracking the delivery of supplies to remote site security monitoring. Unfortunately, these devices can be points of vulnerability for criminals to access your wider network. Often, this is because businesses fail to activate encryption protocols on each device or keep the default password in place.

Collaborate on Planning Protocols

All construction projects involve a significant amount of task juggling between each function unit. A successful and safe site relies on effective collaboration so that everybody can assist in ensuring positive and productive behaviors. To keep your private data safe, you need to take the same approach to cybersecurity.

Gather the primary heads of each unit together to discuss the cybersecurity issues across the project as a whole. Each of these professionals will have insights into how they use digital equipment and where their activities might present vulnerabilities. You can then work together to establish effective protocols to minimize these issues.

If your team is struggling to produce solutions to the issues at hand, it’s worth taking the time to use visual planning methods. Problem-solving flowcharts can help you to better understand the issues, organize the data, and explore potential outcomes. As long as you and your team can define the main problems, you can follow a sequence of yes-or-no questions to reach a logical solution. This can also help you discover cybersecurity issues and protection measures you may not have previously considered.

Provide Effective Training

One of the most important considerations with regard to cybersecurity on your construction site is your staff’s behavior. According to a recent World Economic Forum report, human error accounts for 95% of cybersecurity issues. As such, you need to invest in effective cybersecurity training — both for the protection of your company and the safety of your workforce

This should begin from the earliest stage of hiring. Effective onboarding in construction can affect the success of projects and minimize the potential for dangerous issues to arise. Alongside providing hazard and compliance training, this process should also include introductions to information technology (IT) and cybersecurity best practices. Help your newest team members to understand the importance of strong password protocols and how their actions could present points of vulnerability.

It’s also important to make security training a regular activity for your staff. Make sure your employees understand what suspicious emails look like and the appropriate ways to use work devices. While there is no way to 100% protect your construction business from data breaches, reinforcing your staff’s knowledge can make a significant difference.

Conclusion

While construction may have a reputation for being an analog industry, it is far from immune to cybercrime. There is a growing number of threats that coincide with the adoption of advanced tools and devices that improve on-site efficiency. It’s vital that you and your staff fully understand the most prevalent issues in the industry. From here, you can collaborate on establishing the most effective tools and protocols for your projects. Most importantly, make certain your staff receives regular training on strong cybersecurity practices to mitigate the risk of human error. Cybercrime can cause serious disruption to your projects and your business, so it’s worth investing time and energy into strengthening your organization.

Author: Amanda Winstead is a freelance writer in the construction industry