Building Controls, Security, Sustainability/Business Continuity

4 Ways to Ensure Data Privacy in Smart Buildings

Companies remain incentivized and pressured to switch to smart technologies, as they significantly improve efficiency, reduce energy costs, and provide analytics that support green initiatives. However, the more tech a business implements, the more susceptible it is to data compromises. Nations worldwide are working to enact legislation to bolster data privacy and data use transparency standards. So, how can industries embracing smart buildings keep data safe while abiding by the law?

1. Let the Risks Motivate Compliance Adherence

No matter how luxurious it feels to have automated HVAC systems and high-tech security hubs, Internet of Things (IoT) devices are still relatively new and, therefore, vulnerable. Among mass smart building adoption, experts warn 57% of these devices have medium- or high-risk cybersecurity gaps.

As data privacy and cybersecurity become essential, more compliance benchmarks arise to cover every facet of digital protection. Some of the most prominent compliance standards IoT companies and businesses running smart buildings can look into include the following:

  • ISO 27001
  • IEC 62443
  • NIST
  • HIPAA for the United States
  • GDPR for European companies

As vital enterprises like health care and finance move to smart utilities, data privacy becomes even more exposed. These red flags should motivate organizations to achieve cybersecurity compliance and ensure observance of current laws on data privacy.

2. Form Cohesion in Governance and Communication

Cybersecurity analysts can hire white hat hackers and create business continuity plans for implementing smart tech. Regardless, IoT devices in smart buildings won’t be able to promise data privacy unless the manufacturer knows the faults in their tools. Analysts can collaborate with IoT manufacturers to improve products and reinforce security measures.

IoT device makers should also leverage internal cybersecurity as much as possible before letting products hit the market. Safeguards like this prevent malicious tech from commercial production. Teams should assume hackers will endanger their IoT devices, and data is only safe once proven otherwise.

Customers can submit additional insight via the hands-on experience with the product, and IoT companies can uphold their responsibility by listening and employing data privacy measures. As everyone collaborates toward better outcomes, businesses can outline risk management and prevention to supplement constantly improving smart products.

3. Fortify Data Privacy Awareness

Everyone contributing to smart building infrastructure must have fundamental data privacy and cybersecurity awareness. Supply chains and office employees must all understand how to operate tech without jeopardizing their data privacy within their job description.

Management, IT, and cybersecurity teams within IoT companies and organizations working from smart buildings should level everyone’s understanding through training and conveying initiatives to protect data. Raising awareness of issues and basic safety practices will seal some gaps to reduce data leaks and force third parties to create internal guidelines to manage risks. Everyone needs to get involved, including accounting teams that can invest in improved security to prevent businesses from soaring into headlines for data breaches.

When most cybersecurity compromises happen because of human error, providing resources to improve data privacy protection and understanding could be the most affordable and powerful option for a smart building’s defenses. The guidance also includes outlining who and where to contact if someone spots suspicious activity that could compromise data or an IoT device gets recalled by a manufacturer.

4. Claim Data Ownership—When Applicable

Most data privacy laws dictate that companies must have transparency with how they will utilize the data. They have to limit collection to only essential data for the specified purpose. Also, most data privacy legislation requires storage evaluation and time limits alongside plans to protect that data storage. Therefore, smart devices and the organizations using them should collect less data and reduce the access surface area to maximize protection.

Any personal data within smart devices should either be encrypted or anonymized. Additionally, the data should be as close to home as possible, reducing servers and outside network access. Enabling frameworks like zero trust and least privilege will improve defenses as businesses become more precise and prioritize their data collection.

It helps to reduce data collection when possible and work with what an organization already has unless the data collection purpose requires novel information. More data doesn’t necessarily mean more effectiveness, and when companies prioritize big data collection, more personal information is potentially at risk.

Keep Data Safe While Staying Smart

It’s possible to secure the benefits of smart technology while accommodating potential gaps in cybersecurity. Data privacy becomes more complex the more humans become reliant on technology, but it’s possible to balance tech accessibility and implementation alongside keeping people’s data under lock and key. New tech and laws will change the landscape constantly as the world experiments and programmers continually manage security patches. It’s a matter of staying vigilant and informed to execute best practices until experts discover the best solutions.

Zac Amos covers smart homes, cybersecurity, and other trending tech topics and is the Features Editor at ReHack. You can find more of his work by following him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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