Blackpoint and Colliers

Colliers launches cybersecurity offering

The real estate giant has launched its ‘Neighborhood Curated by Colliers’ platform to provide a range of services and partnerships focusing on cybersecurity, augmented reality, tenant engagement and community staffing.

Blackpoint Cyber has joined as a partner on the initiative, offering its security operations and incident response platform SNAP-Defence and a module that secures IT and operational technology infrastructure as a 24/7 managed service.

The collaboration will see Colliers roll out real-time cyber security solutions to its clients, partners and tenants.

Headquartered in the US, Blackpoint Cyber was founded by former US Department of Defense + Intelligence cyber security and technology experts to help organisations protect their infrastructure and operations. The firm currently provides security solutions to more than 135 commercial real-estate buildings.

Rising security concerns

The news comes as connected technologies and automated systems are quickly gaining traction in the property sector. While promising convenience, efficiency and cost savings for building operators, they are also prone to security vulnerabilities.

Many smart buildings use IP-connected alarm systems, lighting, HVAC controls, irrigation controls and access controls, which are often only secured by a firewall. This makes it easy for criminals to hack into networks.

In January, research from cyber security firm ForeScout showed that thousands of buildings using Internet of Things (IoT) devices and automated systems could be vulnerable to hackers due to insufficient safeguards.

BlackPoint claims that “cyber adversaries have more attack surfaces to exploit, threatening basic building function and ultimately leading to disaster.”

Jon Murchison, CEO of Blackpoint, said: “Commercial real estate is employing a growing number of IP-enabled devices. These devices contain unknown vulnerabilities and are connected to limited-security networks often using insecure protocols.”

“Such environments, combined with remote privileged access by product vendors who are not necessarily focused on cyber security, will create serious cyber events which will impact building operations and tenants.”

Ian Hughes 451 ResearchIan Hughes, an analyst at 451 Research, believes that smart building technology presents both opportunities and challenges. He told PlaceTech: “Building infrastructure is a truly cross sector use case, and IoT is itself a silo buster. A standard office benefits from building services, as does a factory, hospital, school or shopping centre.

“Increasing IoT instrumentation and control of these core services provides obvious cost and ecological benefits. This, as with all IoT, increases the attack surface and potential security problems that can arise.

Speaking about some of these vulnerabilities, he continued: “Building systems control physical access, and hence can be compromised to allow the wrong people in, or shut people out.

“The systems control all the heating and cooling, so cold chain in supermarkets and hospitals can be corrupted, or raw materials for manufacture can be compromised, data centre cooling can be turned down causing expensive hardware failure.

“Office meeting rooms, once instrumented to provide conference services, are a target for eavesdropping and industrial espionage. The potential problems will become worse as the IT systems and Operational Technology (OT) systems merge with this equally instruments shared infrastructure, so a security and trust first approach is essential.”

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