Switch Blog: Cybersecurity in Smart Buildings: Why PropTech is relevant in 2022

Cybersecurity in Smart Buildings: Why PropTech Is Relevant in 2022

With data theft and other cybercrimes, here’s how organizations can use PropTech to safeguard their systems in smart buildings.

Wherever that has an internet connection, there’s cyber risk. Buildings might not be the first thing that comes to mind as cyber-crime targets. However, today’s smart buildings are interconnected to devices, control systems, and public infrastructure. They aren’t immune.

In 2021, governments worldwide experienced an 1,885% increase in ransomware attacks while the healthcare sector encountered a 755% increase in cyberattacks. These attacks primarily cripple businesses by rendering their systems defunct until the hackers get their “ransom.”

Hence, it’s vital to understand how to have proper cyber security infrastructures that would secure our smart buildings.

The Demands of a Smart Building

Today, almost every new building (larger than 10,000 sq/m) is engineered to be a smart building. To stay competitive, buildings must be capable of running autonomously. This often involved installing building automation systems to reduce energy wastage, manage a building’s lighting, heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. All with minimal human involvement. 

To achieve this, building automation systems requires the installation of IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies (including sensors and internet-connected data transmitters). 

Integrating Smart Facility Management Systems (with IoT)

Thanks to IoT, facility management systems can be accessed and controlled remotely – from anywhere in the world, bringing about a wealth of convenience to a smart building including the following:

  • Increased energy efficiency

A smart building gives visibility to systems and equipment that are inefficient and make real-time adjustments to reduce energy consumption.

  • Reduced operating and maintenance costs

A smart building can perform automatic checks for equipment and notify relevant personnel when preventive maintenance or replacement is necessary.

  • Improved occupant comfort and health

Smart buildings are equipped with advanced climate and lighting controls to improve indoor air quality and lighting levels. With occupancy sensors, we can accurately locate occupants and implement appropriate safe distancing measures.

Potential Risks That Smart Buildings Face

However, the convergence of the physical and digital worlds calls for a different approach to risk. The same PropTech that brings great convenience to its occupants also provides the gateway for hackers. While Singapore suffered only very minor cyberattacks, other incidents around the world highlight how disastrous a lapse in a building’s cybersecurity can be.

The Price of Unsecured Buildings & Systems

In 2014, through Target’s smart Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system provider, hackers infiltrated the retail giant’s Point of Sale systems and uploaded data-stealing malware. This resulted in over 40 million stolen credit card information and incurred losses of up to $420 million.

Three years later, cybercriminals stole a database of high-roller gamblers from a North American casino through an Internet-connected thermostat in the aquarium lobby. These are cautionary tales that building owners should be aware of as technology and infrastructures advance.

How Can We Secure Smart Buildings?

Traditionally, we distinguish between physical and information security, business-continuity management and data protection, and in-house and external security. As the lines are blurred, these archaic segregations must be done away for a more holistic and robust cybersecurity system.

57% of IoT devices are vulnerable to medium or high-severity attacks. Many established corporations (e.g., hospitals, data centres, hotels) have fallen victim to cyberattacks. Moreover, with physical infrastructure, you’re exposed to the vulnerability of having the occupants be held hostage by malicious parties who can control the building remotely.

Thus, it calls for top of the line cybersecurity PropTech to ensure these calamities are avoided. With cybersecurity PropTech, you enjoy a variety of benefits.

3 Benefits of Cybersecurity Driven PropTech in Smart Buildings

1.      Vigorous Security System

Anything that can connect to the internet is at risk of a cyberattack. It’s critical to view a smart building security like an enterprise network security.

With proptech, we can ensure that new devices undergo a stringent vetting process and are preloaded with layers of protection. For instance, a smart building’s elements (e.g., doors, alarm, printers) would be consistently monitored to ensure that it’s secure during activity and inactivity. Cybersecurity proptech focuses on implementing a system level security across every component in a smart building.

2. Protecting Business Continuity

60% of businesses go bust within six months of a data breach. Successful intrusions prevent smart buildings from operating and can lead to significant damages resulting from the following:

  • extended operational downtime
  • data losses
  • financial losses
  • legal lawsuits
  • endangering public safety

As technologies become more integrated and interconnected, cyber-breaching a single connected device could endanger the entire network causing disruption to the entire line. Protecting your network with ruggedized systems could prevent a class action lawsuit and a nightmare of reparations.

3. Compliant with International Cyber Security Standards

With an increased globalised threat of Ransomware, international bodies have placed regulations that owners must comply with and include as part of the tender specifications. There are the three international cybersecurity standards for smart buildings:

  • IEC 62443
  • ISO 27001
  • European NIS Directive

Thankfully, most cybersecurity proptech in the market have attained more stringent requirements or the equivalent set by these regulatory bodies.

Property owners are highly encouraged to require their vendors to meet reasonable levels of security before establishing any partnership. These requirements should be reflected into their assessment criteria for suppliers to prevent a loophole for data breach.


Cybersecurity is a moving target. What’s safe today, may not be secure tomorrow. As more proptech populates the market, we need to ensure that we can protect our smart buildings well.

At Switch Automation, we democratise the data science process and reduce the skills barrier to enable broader participation. We empower companies to execute with optimal data interpretability and accuracy across portfolios and buildings. Get connected with our specialists today.

Our team is made up of some of the world’s leading experts in sustainability,

engineering and data-science, so your organization can trust that we have your best interest at hear.

If you’re ready to make the switch, contact us today!

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