Security Experts:

Survey: 1 in 4 Facility Managers Experienced OT System Breaches

A survey commissioned by industrial giant Honeywell showed that roughly a quarter of facility managers have admitted suffering a breach of operational technology (OT) systems in the past year.

The report released by Honeywell on Wednesday, titled “Protecting Operational Technology in Facilities from Cyber Threats: Constraints and Realities,” is based on information provided by facility managers in the United States, Germany and China, across the education, data center, healthcare, and commercial real estate sectors.

According to Honeywell, 27% of the respondents said they had experienced an OT breach in the last 12 months, with the highest percentages in the education (33%) and data center (26%) sectors.

In the case of buildings, these OT systems can include HVAC, physical security, and building management systems.

“The impact of cyber incidents can go beyond mere financial loss; operational and reputational damage can be equally devastating if not more so,” said Mirel Sehic, global cybersecurity director of Honeywell Building Technologies. “By understanding the cybersecurity risks surrounding building OT systems, facility managers and IT personnel alike can better position themselves to make smart buying decisions, implement targeted OT security controls and maintain heightened cyber resilience across OT environments.”

The survey showed that more than 7 in 10 facility managers are concerned about OT cybersecurity, with those in data centers being the most concerned. On the other hand, only 44% of respondents have OT security solutions currently in place at their facility.

OT cybersecurity concern for managers

When asked about the difficulties related to OT, the top response was managing OT security, followed closely by keeping pace with technological changes, implementing new solutions and upgrades, managing the facility remotely, and budgeting for OT solutions.

However, there are some regional differences when it comes to OT-related difficulties. In the United States, for instance, facility managers are concerned about creating a healthier and safer environment, which is not a top concern for managers in China and Germany. Minimizing downtime and disruptions are significant concerns in the U.S. and Germany, but not in China, where meeting evolving occupant demands is more important.

Overall, 33% of respondents believe OT cybersecurity provides the greatest benefit to stakeholders and occupants of the building, and the same percentage said it would invest in OT security over the next 12-18 months. China takes the lead in both these categories with 38% and 41%, respectively, compared to the U.S., which has 32% and 30%.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.