Smart Office Cyber Security: Balancing Convenience And Risk

A network of smart devices running through office spaces will mean balancing security risks with the convenience benefits of connection. Dan Patterson of TechRepublic discussed this with Steve Ranger, UK editor-in-chief, TechRepublic and ZDNet, about balancing the security risks with the good that would come from having a network of connected devices.

Ranger offered a quick summary of how the security risks that were once in associated with smart home devices have migrated to the office. He offered an example of the risks associated even with a simple smart device.

“You might bring in a smart speaker or you might bring in like a little weather station and have it on your desk because you think that’s kind of cool but actually that’s something with a microphone” Ranger said.” It might have a camera in it. It might be recording all sorts of data, and it’s quite possible that the people running your office have no idea that you’ve done this so that’s just one of the ways that we have a security problem here.”

However, attack risks, as Patterson noted, don’t just apply to offices. As cities work with major tech giants to create smart infrastructure, certain vulnerabilities may be created. Rangers explained how the buck for decision making can get passed based on sheer confusion about the nature of this new technology no matter where it is implemented.

“One of the problems is, certainly with internet of things devices, is that there’s a kind of a lack of policy. The IT people in the organization think it’s a form of HR. HR think it gets down to all the people that run the office like the facilities people,” Rangers said.

“Facilities don’t have much of a clue about the technical intricacies of these devices. So all these groups actually have to come together and say, “All right, we’re going to have a policy. We’re going to have some sort of understanding of what the risks here are. What the HR risk is. What the technical risk is. What the risk to the building is.” Too often that doesn’t happen, so that you really need to have policy and for all of these different groups involved to come together and think about what the potential risks are here.”

The final point Rangers made addressed the good these devices can bring assuming the risks can be minimized and controlled.

“They can make just the productivity levels can go up, the efficiencies levels can go up if we have these devices that just kind of like take away a little bit of the office friction that can make us grumpy and kind of just like make life harder,” Rangers said. “There is a really good reason to bring these things into the office. We just need to think a little bit more carefully about it before we switch those devices on.”