By Zachary Amos, Features Editor at ReHack
Nearly every industry in the global economy is becoming increasingly concerned about cybersecurity threats. Hackers are using various methods to access companies’ networks and systems to launch attacks, making it challenging for businesses to continue operating as usual.
The construction industry is becoming more of a target, especially as technology adoption increases. What are some cybersecurity threats impacting the sector, and how can firms defend themselves?
The Tech-Driven Construction Industry: A Major Target for Cyberattacks
The cybersecurity landscape is evolving, meaning hackers leverage advanced tools and techniques to attack companies and individuals. According to research from Statista, the cost of cybercrime is expected to hit $23.84 trillion by 2027.
In addition to the financial, health care, government and education sectors, the construction industry is becoming a major target for cybersecurity threats. Firms are starting to use emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, drones and more. This tech is highly beneficial but also exposes construction firms to cybersecurity risks.
Cybercriminals also target low-hanging fruit, such as smaller, local construction companies, as they’re more likely to have weak cybersecurity protections. Therefore, all businesses must be prepared to defend against potential threats.
Common Cybersecurity Threats Construction Companies Face
Construction companies must be aware of several threats to defend against them. Here are some common cybersecurity risks that could cause damage.
Ransomware is an attack where cyberattackers encrypt company data and demand a ransom to decrypt and return it. Ransom payments can reach hundreds of thousands or millions.
Phishing is another attack becoming more frequent and intense in construction, among other industries. Scammers send messages to victims via email or SMS to force them to share login credentials, banking information or company data. Successful phishing attacks often stem from human error.
Business Email Compromise (BEC)
In 2021, the FBI released an alert stating that scammers were impersonating construction companies in business email compromise (BEC) attacks. Organizations in the U.S. critical infrastructure sector were targeted.
BEC attacks involve cybercriminals hacking into a company’s network and sending fraudulent emails to ask for payment. The messages appear to come from executives or other important individuals within a company, so employees often comply and send money willingly.
How Construction Firms Can Protect Themselves From Cybersecurity Threats
Since cyberattacks are becoming more of a concern in construction, companies must do whatever they can to defend themselves. For example, businesses that can afford to should hire or partner with an IT or cybersecurity firm. This will help them maintain a good cybersecurity posture in an increasingly threatening landscape.
Here are a few other ways construction firms can protect themselves from ongoing cyberthreats.
Update Passwords Regularly
Regularly updating passwords to all online accounts and platforms is a good cybersecurity practice. This makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to use brute force attack methods, which can damage an organization. Instead, ask employees to change their passwords monthly. They should use special characters, capital letters and numbers.
Conduct Security Audits
Another surefire way companies can protect their network is by conducting frequent security audits. These audits highlight the weaknesses in a company’s network infrastructure and allow businesses to take more proactive steps to prevent attacks.
Implement Firewalls and Antivirus Software
Companies should consider adopting firewalls and antivirus software. These digital tools help businesses keep their networks and digital devices secure. Every company should have a firewall to keep bad actors out and only allow trusted individuals to access crucial information. Antivirus software can detect and prevent viruses from taking advantage of networks and systems.
Hold Employee Cybersecurity Training
Training employees on cybersecurity can help companies reduce the likelihood of attacks, particularly those in the social engineering category. This education has its fair share of benefits, as it heightens employees’ awareness about potential threats and can help defend against ransomware, phishing and BEC attacks.
Defending Against Cyberattacks in the Construction Industry
Cybersecurity must remain a top priority for construction organizations and their employees. Today’s hackers look for the most lucrative opportunities. While it makes sense that cybercriminals will target large corporate construction firms, that’s not always the case.
Small construction companies are just as likely to become victims of cyberattacks as their larger, more corporate counterparts. Firms should improve their cybersecurity posture and protect themselves from potential threats.
As the Features Editor at ReHack, Zac Amos writes about cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and other tech topics. He is a frequent contributor to Brilliance Security Magazine.