Your BMS Could Catch a Virus

Oct. 26, 2012
Systems could be vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Did you know that if you have a building management system (BMS), it could be vulnerable to viruses and other cyber attacks? Building owners are implementing intelligent buildings and smart grids because of their advantages in energy efficiency and facilities management. But many are overlooking the potential risk of malicious attacks on these highly networked control systems.

Writing in the journal Intelligent Buildings International, David Fisk of the Laing O’Rourke Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation at Imperial College London warns that the basic building blocks of intelligent buildings – the process controllers that make up a distributed BMS – can be infected by malware, often through a backdoor left ajar on a trusted network.

Fisk notes that “the basic system should normally be independent of the intelligent building software. However, this is not current practice as far as can be discerned from existing ASHRAE and CIBSE standards.”

The article, “Cyber Security, Building Automation, and the Intelligent Building,” explores a recent cyber attack that demonstrates the wide-ranging havoc that could be caused by malicious software. It goes on to explain how similar attacks present a threat to the smart grid and other open systems.

Increased exposure to attacks is brought on by pressures on system procurement and upgrades aimed at improving functionality.

Owners should ensure that their software provider is using a whole-system design approach that provides robust protection.

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