Here's Why Field Service Should Be Prioritizing Cybersecurity
Our unprecedented and increasingly connected world is bringing significant advantages to global industry as the internet allows us to carry out work in new and innovative ways. However, there is another side to this connectivity, and that's the increased opportunity for cybercriminals to carry out their attacks.
In 2018, 62% of businesses experienced phishing and social engineering attacks. Meanwhile, 68% of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing. In the first half of 2019 alone, data breaches exposed over four billion records. Worldwide spending on cybersecurity is forecasted to reach $133.7 billion in 2022, which implies that businesses are becoming more and more aware of the threat posed by cybercriminals.
Field service is not immune to this problem and needs to devote additional effort and resources to protect their businesses and customers — a need that is only set to grow as we move deeper into 2020.
Much like other industries, the field service business has seen new levels of connectivity in recent years. While this connectivity is making field service a more effective and efficient machine, it is also opening it up to cybersecurity threats.
The Internet of Things has enabled machinery to be fitted with connected sensors that can send constant data reports back and forth from servers. This is helping engineers detect issues when they are in their very early stages and attend to them before they result in large scale shutdowns. Field service mobility is empowering engineers to access real-time data on jobs, scheduling, and dispatch, ensuring they have all the information they need to do their job without having to travel back and forth from headquarters.
These are all amazing developments and of great benefit for the industry, but they do little to help in the fight against cybercrime. In fact, they increase the risk of attacks significantly. The main challenge is that the cyber world has become so vast that many of these innovations provide convenient and simple backdoors into larger caches of data.
The Internet of Things is of particular risk as many of these innovations are notoriously lax on security. Cybercriminals have gone on record stating that many corners of the IoT market are an absolute breeze to break into and take control of. While the chances of a significant data breach might seem remote, the consequences of someone taking control of field service IoT technology are severe. For example, if someone were to take control of a sensor in a factory, that machine could be used to shut down myriad devices, sabotaging the company. Furthermore, the criminal could use that sensor as a backdoor into more significant data stores.
Mobile devices also pose a significant risk to businesses as they can often also be easily exposed to cyber threats. With many companies adopting bring your own device (BYOD) policies, it becomes incredibly difficult to effectively police the content that engineers and other staff members access from those devices. Third-party apps and web content are notorious for their lack of security — the number of malware-infected apps on some popular marketplaces is staggering.
The most obvious way of addressing the concerns of cybersecurity in field service is through education. Knowledge is power — as the adage goes — and that has rarely been truer as it is when it comes to cybersecurity.
Operational knowledge of how to secure mobile devices is key, especially if it's not possible or practical for your company to provide engineers with proprietary devices. Engineers and all staff members need to be educated and trained to understand how cybercriminals can access their data. They need to know about the risk presented by opening email attachments from suspicious or unknown sources — and indeed, how to identify such sources. They also need to be trained on why they should be cautious of installing third-party apps and why it's just as important to secure a mobile device with antivirus software as their laptop at home.
If you fail to properly educate your staff and secure your business against cyber-attacks, a successful breach could cause significant damage to your business. Fines can be significant — especially now we have the GDPR, the California Privacy Act, and many more similar legislations — and the damage to your revenue and reputation can be irreparable.
The threats from cybersecurity are significant but not insurmountable. The key steps that will increase your chances of remaining safe are education and not becoming complacent. The threats are constant, so your response too them needs to be equally as inexorable if you are to keep your data secure and reputation intact.
Cybersecurity is set to be a hot topic at Field Service Amelia Island 2020, taking place in August at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, FL.
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