7 Steps to Robust Cyber Security in the Construction Industry

construction-site

July 15, 2023

From ransomware and phishing attacks to IoT vulnerabilities and invoicing scams, Australia’s construction sector is grappling with a growing onslaught of cyber attacks. Unfortunately, these threats are piling on at a time when economic instability, supply chain disruptions, and a host of other pressures are also mounting. To say that this creates a tough environment for business leaders would be an understatement. 

Among the onslaught of challenges, it’s crucial to have a handle on precisely what threats you’re up against and the best ways to protect yourself against them. A reputable IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help you understand the IT risks and challenges your business is facing. After conducting a thorough risk assessment, your MSP can get to work reinforcing your cyber security measures, enhancing your IT infrastructure, and monitoring your systems to ensure everything continues to run smoothly. 

If you’d like to learn a little more about the value an MSP can deliver for construction businesses, take a look at our guide to advanced IT management in the construction industry. If you’d rather dive into the details of cyber security first, read on for an overview of the seven steps you need to take to ensure your protective measures are robust. 

Get the lay of the land

Ransomware attacks, data breaches, phishing scams, and other threats have been on the rise for years. However, the pandemic added fuel to this digital fire, leading to major increases in cyber attacks on businesses of all sizes. 

As technology grows increasingly advanced, the tools cybercriminals have access to are also becoming astonishingly sophisticated. This is why construction companies must know their IT infrastructure through and through. By conducting an internal assessment, you’ll be able to identify potential security gaps that pose a risk to your company, your data, and your customers. 

From here, you (or your MSP) can ensure you’re equipped with the cybersecurity tools needed to address weaknesses, monitor your system, detect threats, and act on them before they become an issue. Regular upkeep and maintenance of these tools will give you the seamless protection you need to remain safely out of reach of cyber attacks.

Develop and follow a data security plan 

A strong data security plan is crucial for any business but especially important for construction companies. Your plan should cover everything from access permissions for employees and contractors to the steps that must be taken if a data breach occurs.

Your plan should form part of your company policies, and you’ll need to update it whenever you incorporate new technologies into your business or otherwise alter your management systems. With a data security plan in place, your employees will have a guide for adhering to data regulations, giving you a better chance of ensuring your valuable data is protected during your day-to-day operations. 

Backup your data and create a disaster recovery plan

In today’s world, backing up your data is non-negotiable. You can opt for physical backups, a cloud-based system, or a mix of the two. To back up your backups, it’s also important to create a disaster recovery plan detailing the precise steps to take in case of a cyber emergency. If you have an in-house IT department, they may be able to assist you with this. However, an MSP is often better equipped to handle disaster recovery plans. Their IT consultants are always up to speed with industry developments and best practices, and if you pick an MSP that specialises in construction, you can rest assured your plan will be perfectly tailored to suit your business. 

Your backup and disaster recovery plan will ensure that, should the worst happen, you won’t even have to think about what to do. Instead, you can activate your plan, recover your data, and restore your systems before too much (if any) damage is done. 

Treat your data like the valuable commodity it is

If there’s one thing cybercriminals respect, it’s data. They respect it because if they can get their hands on it, it can earn them millions. Sadly, many business leaders fail to treat their company’s data with the same level of respect as the bad actors do.   

To ensure you never fall into this category, treat your data like the valuable commodity it is. Here are the core steps you need to follow to achieve this: 

  • Use encryption for online transactions – even if a bad actor gains access to a company device, this will ensure your data remains secure;
  • Use data masking – this technique disguises sensitive data by replacing it with fictitious data;
  • Ensure your multi-factor authentication requires two forms of verifying identity – for example, you could combine the User ID with a uniquely generated code;
  • Ensure everyone with access to your system has strong passwords;
  • Do not store any data you no longer strictly need;
  • Store sensitive data separately from general data, and restrict access to only those people who need it to carry out their roles;
  • Review access permissions at regular intervals and whenever an employee or contractor leaves the company;
  • Don’t neglect security on your mobile devices; 
  • Check for and approve software updates;
  • Never download apps from third-party platforms without approval from your IT team.

Take full advantage of cloud computing

It’s no exaggeration to say that cloud computing has been a revolution for cyber security, replacing the vulnerabilities of the past with robust and flexible solutions. Though it’s the ideal platform for keeping your data safe, cloud computing is about far more than just data storage. 

With a Virtual Desktop, for example, you and your team can access your data and applications from any connected device, allowing you to be more mobile than ever while eliminating the need for on-site servers. By hosting your data in the cloud with a reputable cloud services provider, you’ll also benefit from daily monitoring and protection by IT consultants who are skilled at detecting threats. 

Conduct regular threat testing 

The only way to truly gauge the strength of your data security measures is through regular threat testing and penetration testing. By simulating potential attacks, you can evaluate the effectiveness of your protocols and ensure everyone knows what they need to do when responding to a threat. Your team needs to be aware of the many ways your company’s data may be compromised. Threat testing is a powerful tool for achieving this goal and enhancing your data security. 

Want to learn more about penetration testing? Check out our FAQs about penetration testing

Train your team on cyber security best practices

Your employees form your most important line of defence against cyber threats. This can make them your biggest strength or your biggest weakness, depending on the training you provide. 

Armed with a thorough education on how to identify and prevent potential attacks, your employees and contractors can significantly reduce your risk of a security breach. So be sure to deliver annual training sessions covering such topics as how to recognise phishing emails, how to create strong passwords, and how to safely handle sensitive data. 

Invest in cyber security training for your employees, and you’ll take a major step toward protecting your company’s valuable information and reputation.

The easy way to master cyber security in construction 

Data breaches can damage your business in many more ways than one. Loss of customer information is perhaps the first thing that springs to mind. However, in the case of ransomware attacks, you may lose control of your business entirely. This can lead to costly delays in work, dealing a double hit to your reputation. If existing and potential clients begin to feel that their sensitive data isn’t safe with you, the strike to your reputation may prove fatal. 

Thankfully, a Managed Service Provider like Invotec can provide the robust level of cyber security you need to evade cyber threats. Outsourcing IT security has many general benefits, but you can gain additional advantages by partnering with a company that specialises in construction IT support. 

Invotec offers 24/7 monitoring, seamless cyber security, and tailored packages for construction companies of all sizes. Our specialist team delivers an advanced level of technical support that’s custom-designed for the construction industry. To arrange an obligation-free consultation, call Invotec on 1300 468 683 or fill out the contact form below.

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