Architecture firms rely increasingly on technology to facilitate their processes, communicate with customers and share designs and ideas.
With improved connectivity and valuable intellectual property and digital assets being stored, there is an increased risk from cyber threats. Recognising the key areas of vulnerability and taking steps to mitigate these risks is essential for any architecture firm operating in the current market.
Common Vulnerabilities for Architecture Firms
Weak passwords are commonplace, despite all the tips and advice surrounding this subject. This means it is easy for malicious actors and hackers to gain access to the network and valuable information as they can probably guess what the password is off the top of their heads.
Neglecting to upgrade software and operating systems increases the risk of cyber criminals as it leaves more doors open for them to exploit. Updated software may include new measures to deal with common emerging threats so failing to keep up to date with these may leave a vulnerability in place that has since been recognised and addressed.
Phishing attacks where confidential information and log-in details can be acquired by cybercriminals posing as legitimate parties are a significant risk to any architecture firm. Employees naturally adopt a more casual and trusting attitude towards people they perceive as being employed in the same company as them.
This type of fortress mentality is common, where everybody on the inside is your friend and you watch for threats from the outside but not within. This element of psychology is frequently exploited by cyber criminals who will, for example, send an email that is purportedly from within your own IT department and easily gain access to the network and vital data.
Insider threats as a result of human error cover a broad range of vulnerabilities and methods used by hackers. Normally, any other type of data breach will ultimately have been a result of human error at some stage in the incident—either someone neglected to change their password, or let the wrong person onto the network without checking their credentials, or opened an attachment on an email when they should have followed security protocols, etc.
Hackers will employ a range of sophisticated techniques and various methods to gain unauthorised access to the network and important data, but the usual entry point will be the simple weakness in human error.
Consequences of Network Breaches
- Architecture firms hold valuable intellectual properties and digital assets that can be stolen such as design plans and client data
- Threats such as DDOS attacks where servers and customer-facing sites are spammed with excessive requests to jam up the system can result in severe downtime and productivity loss
- When operations are disrupted this can cause delays in project timelines and have a significant impact on the end client and their relationship with your business
- Regulatory compliance can be compromised by unauthorised access to the network—architecture firms must adhere to stringent regulations regarding data protection and any breach could result in significant financial penalties
- All of these consequences can also result in long-lasting damage to the reputation of the architecture firm if clients feel that their finances and data are not being securely processed and the responsibility over their information is not being taken seriously by the architecture firm in question
What Steps Should Architecture Firms Take to Reduce the Risk From Data Breaches?
Strong password culture
According to a study by Verizon, passwords that were either too weak, using the default password or somehow being stolen resulted in 80% of reported data breaches from cyber criminals.
For this reason, it is important to adopt a strong culture of password security and reinforce this with a company password policy that explains in detail what is required of staff members and anyone who has access to the network.
Two-factor authentication is often overlooked due to the extra hassle involved in getting the code every time you want to do something. However, this may be the extra layer of security or a step in the process that makes it impossible for the hacker to gain access.
For example, if they have the password of the user but don’t have their mobile phone, there will be no way for the hacker to obtain the code in the two-factor process and gain access to the network.
Regular updates to software and antivirus programs
The battle between cybersecurity providers and malicious hackers is like an ever-evolving arms race. Hackers develop some new methods to gain access and steal important data—security providers and anti-virus software then put measures in place to mitigate this threat and roll it out across all users.
Failing to update software to include these latest protections is akin to winning the arms race with superior defences then giving your enemy a detailed plan of where all your bases are located and handing them the keys to your fortress. You had the defences ready that could have been used but neglected to use them and gave the intruders easy access.
Limit access to design plans
Limiting access to design plans and other intellectual property to those who need to use it on a daily basis (e.g. designers, engineers) can go a long way to help secure some of the most valuable assets held by the architecture firm.
Cybersecurity awareness training
Cyber security awareness training helps employees to recognise and quickly react to any incoming threats. As the majority of data breaches are a result of human error, these can be addressed by giving staff the tools and training needed to combat cybercrime and mitigate a range of vulnerabilities. See this article where we recommend how to carry out staff training in a remote setting!
Lyon Tech—Working Alongside Architecture Firms
At Lyon, we work closely with architecture firms to provide a range of cybersecurity measures and systems to create a robust defence against threats from malicious actors looking to steal important data and gain unauthorised access to networks and transactions.
- Full end-to-end encryption
- Secure cloud storage and virtual desktops
- Cybersecurity awareness training
- Intrusion detection and threat monitoring
- Live security system analysis
- Comprehensive infrastructure audits including all endpoints, networks, systems and equipment
- 24/7 help desk and cybersecurity response teams
For more information, get in touch with our expert analysts who can provide a comprehensive review of your existing systems and requirements, and advise on which solutions would be most suitable for the needs of your architecture firm.
Further details on cybersecurity for architecture firms can be found on our website and we would be more than happy to answer any queries you may have via phone or email.