MN Energy Smart

Is Your Networked HVAC System Secure?

ems_control_150Smart technologies are reducing energy use and cutting overhead costs across industries. Many larger companies now have networks that optimize efficiency by controlling building temperature, lighting, maintenance and transportation systems from a central dashboard. These technologies are a great step forward in efficiency and a proven approach to managing energy use.

But networked systems of every kind are at risk from hacking and other malicious data loss or theft.

A networked HVAC system was the entry point for the data breach at Target in 2014. The hackers gained access to Target’s financial data systems by stealing the login credentials of an HVAC services contractor. Credit card information for 40 million customers was stolen, the company’s losses exceeded $150 million and Target is still at work restoring customer confidence.

Companies can, and do, successfully manage data security while profiting from networked systems. Preparation and vigilance are essential.

Here are 5 steps your company can take now to increase data security:

  1. Work with a data security professional. Data threats change continually so you want people who have the latest know-how. Make them part of a designated team that coordinates data security.
  2. Physically secure the location of your server(s). Many companies haven’t so much as a lock on the door to guard against physical access by unauthorized persons.
  3. Backup, backup, backup. Seriously, people. This is a lesson you don’t want to learn the hard way. Automate backup using a service or application. Do it. Yesterday.
  4. Think beyond your firewall. Corporate laptops, tablets and mobile phones connect to the main, managed network. Cloud-based “endpoint” solutions back up and secure mobile devices to defend against data theft. If you won’t backup for security, backup for basic business efficiency: you can recover more quickly when laptops crash, tablets get stolen and phones go missing.
  5. Routinely revoke authorizations. When staff (or outside contractors) leave or change jobs, make needed changes to their data access immediately.

Don’t neglect the security of your networked systems. Even if your potential risk is not the size of Target’s, hacks are a huge pain to fix, create problems that tend to linger, and divert your staff from their work. You have better things to do.

Do contact Energy Smart to learn how technology can make your energy use smarter, more efficient and less costly. By connecting you to utility rebates and financial incentives for which you qualify, Energy Smart can make it even more attractive to complete those money-saving energy upgrades.

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