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By: Sydney Paschall on February 1, 2023

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Construction Industry Data Breach: What You Should Know

Construction Technology

In a day and age when digital security is more important than ever, it is imperative that companies and employees do everything they can to prevent cyberattacks and data breaches on company and personal data. Specifically, in an industry as large and lucrative as construction, key players must be extremely diligent when it comes to stopping construction industry data breaches.

It is not just about keeping the construction site, tools, and documents locked up and safe when not in use anymore. Today, concerns about personal data, construction project data, software, and hardware are at the forefront of discussions when it comes to cyberattacks facing the construction industry.

Why the Construction Industry is More at Risk for Cyber Threats

The thought of classified and confidential information being compromised can be daunting, and even with layers of protection in place, cybercriminals are still finding ways to access valuable assets that can create irreversible damage to businesses and customers alike. Data breaches in construction alone increased by 800% from 2019 to 2020, according to a 2021 Data Breach study conducted by Kroll.

There are many factors that contribute to this, such as the industry’s avoidance of regulation in data security and privacy laws, the slower adoption of digitization, the increased exposure to third parties, the transition to remote work environments, and the fact that construction companies small and large store desirable data and personal information that is deemed attractive by threat actors. Even further, construction firms hold the key to an immense amount of data like intellectual property, corporate banking and financial accounts, architectural designs and plans, as well as governmental institution information if you work on city and state projects.

How to Prevent & Reduce the Risk of Cyberattacks in Construction

It is no question whether or not you should be utilizing construction data security measures to ensure your data is safe and out of harm’s way. However, soaking in the middle of this ring of cyber-attack fear, we can use the winning combination of state-of-the-art technology, trusted security professionals, and strategized plans to combat cyberattacks and implement better risk management.

Undergo a Data Inventory to Assess Risk

In order to properly set your business and company up for success against data loss and cyber breaches, it is crucial to first assess your level of risk. While working through a data inventory, ask yourself questions such as: what does this company have to protect? How long do we intend to keep the data, and where is it stored? Why is it necessary to keep and who has access to it? Who is responsible for the data, and how is it classified? After you gauge your risk level, consider utilizing some or all of the following tactics to ensure your data is secure as possible.

Multi-Factor Authentication & Strong Passwords

The two most standard and effective ways to protect data are to ensure that you are enabling multi-factor authentication and implementing a strict and strong password policy. When possible, require employees to use a dual authentication system, as well as change their passwords regularly. Try to choose a completely unique password of at least 15 characters and avoid using words related to you.

Continuous Monitoring of Entry Points

A proactive way to safeguard data is to make a continuous effort to monitor entry points and scan for security hazards, such as malware, viruses, and ransomware. With a huge increase in people working from home and constant threats to data security, it is imperative to actively check access points and make sure all software and programs are running properly. Larger companies with information and security specialists can utilize vulnerability scanners during all stages of software development to detect issues and further increase optimization.

Encryption & VPNs

With more employees than ever working remotely and especially with the geographical distribution of the construction industry, it is even more important to encrypt data. However, a shield of encryption during data transmission and storage is not suggested as the only form of defense in today’s highly active age of cyber breaches. A virtual private network or VPN is another stronghold in assuring that employees and online users are as safe and secure as possible.

Incident Recovery Plan & Data Back-Ups

A huge step in the prevention of security breaches is to have an incident response plan in place for when and if a breach happens. Create a solid strategy and know how to exercise it if that is ever the case. Time is of the essence in these unfortunate circumstances, and knowing essential items like who is first in line regarding communication points, mitigating further harm, laying out remediation plans, and consulting insurance and legal advisors when applicable. On the note of disaster recovery, it is also critical to have secure backups in place or already established to further ensure your data is protected.

Firewall Protection

Creating a firewall protection on your networks to prevent and protect software from attacks on important data is another line of defense in the fight against cyber breaches. A firewall can assist unauthorized computers and users from hacking into your system, as well as notify you of unsafe applications that may be running on your system.

Access Control & Employee Training

Lastly, a final preventative measure you can take to save your data from a breach is to make sure only the people that need access to the most sensitive information have access to it. Scale each employee’s access by what they absolutely need access to by utilizing a role-based control system. Ask: what is the minimum access this person needs to do their job effectively? It is highly suggested that employees, especially at larger companies, undergo extensive training around the risks of cyber security and what they can do daily to help prevent attacks.

Final Thoughts on Cyber Defense in Construction

While these are just a thorough handful of ways and strategies to discourage and mitigate risks around construction-related cyber threats, we hope that you feel more prepared than ever to further secure your construction company’s data. With the construction industry being at higher risk for cyber threats, having a response plan in place and undergoing every line of defense should leave you in a safer zone when it comes to breaches.