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How the cloud powering the smart building is more secure than ever

Jordan O'Brien

Jordan O'Brien

Contributing Editor
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Cloud Security

The smart building revolution is coming, but key to its adoption will be ensuring that the cloud technology behind any building is sufficiently secure. Priva’s general manager for UK & Ireland, Gavin Holvey, examines the robust security measures that now underpin cloud platforms, and the scope these services provide for future expansion.

The events of the last 10 months have reminded us all that the future is very much subject to change. But with its inherent ability to adapt to and protect a company’s most important assets outside of its people, migrating building management and operations to the cloud remains a necessary – and sound – investment.  

This switch to the cloud will help to deliver on the ‘smart building revolution’; buildings become easier to operate and maintain in terms of resource optimisation, ease of management, and access to upgrades and maintenance. Simply put, companies who shift some or all of their IT activities to the cloud can dramatically reduce the cost requirements of having their own storage and processing systems – not to mention the often sizable rack-rooms they occupy. 

But these are by no means the only benefits, as the mature cloud services available today can also offer significant advantages in terms of security and future expansion.

However, some old concerns about the cloud still remain despite its recent growth. Anyone who has paid even passing attention to technology issues over the last few years will be aware of the increasing threat of cyberattack. 

In the earlier days of the cloud, there was a suspicion in some quarters that remote data storage was somehow less secure than having everything located on-site. Always a dubious contention given the widely varying security set-ups in different firms, it’s now entirely without foundation as the leading cloud platforms have consistently invested huge sums in security.

Cybercrime is a moving target

Cloud services have attained maturity and the vast majority of their providers now offer support that is second to none. Ongoing updates and regular stress-testing have also delivered formidable levels of security to cloud services.

For example, here at Priva, our own cloud services are based on one of the world’s leading platforms, Azure by Microsoft. Leading banking and legal organisations – for whom data integrity is an absolute top priority – are among those to have adopted Azure, which relies on a cloud built with customised hardware. It also has security controls integrated into both hardware and firmware, and features added protection against threats such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) – in other words, a calculated attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a server or network.

Internet security is the very definition of a moving target given that new threats are coming up all the time. Recent data released by cyber education company, Cyberint, indicates that SMEs are being widely targeted, with 43% of all cyber attacks directed towards small businesses. This has potentially serious implications for companies whose core data operations are in the hands of a small in-house IT team or occasional help from outside contractors.

As the diversity of attacks increases, it will become even more difficult to keep on top of all the cyber-threats. In this context it is even more logical to shift responsibility to a service based on a cloud technology such as Microsoft Azure, which is supported by a global team of more than 3,500 cybersecurity experts focused on safeguarding business assets and data. In this way, a cloud-based solution offers a very specific form of future-proofing. Above all, it makes it much easier to scale your IT usage as your needs change.

Post-pandemic predictions

Looking forward to a post-Covid world, our observation is that the future is likely to bring more home and/or remote working, and the need for premises to be reconfigured or redeployed more rapidly in response to changing requirements. It’s clear that the adoption of cloud-based BMS packages is set to be especially pronounced.

This article originally appeared in Electrical Review January/February 2021.

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