5 Priorities for Stronger Network Security on Connected Jobsites
February 27, 2024

Threat Assessment for Construction Jobsites

Construction jobsites face unique challenges when it comes to network security due to their dynamic and often temporary nature. Balancing the need to quickly provide field teams with internet connectivity and implementing basic security measures can be challenging. The biggest network vulnerabilities for connected jobsites include weak authentication, unsecured IoT devices, and physical security.

Construction sites can be vulnerable to physical security breaches because of the accessibility they provide to allow workers and contractors to come and go. Unauthorized individuals may slip past and gain access to network equipment, cables, and infrastructure, leading to potential tampering or theft of sensitive data. Additionally, if the site lacks dependable internet connectivity options, it may force workers to rely on insecure or shared networks such as public Wi-Fi or cellular hotspots. These connections are susceptible to eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other forms of interception.

Weak authentication is a major risk that arises because field teams often share devices and logins, leading to vulnerable credentials. This increases the risk of unauthorized access to network resources and sensitive information. Considering that workers may lack security awareness and/or aren’t trained in cybersecurity best practices, it only takes one click on a malicious link or download of malware-infected files to spread like wildfire through your systems.

The growing use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices on construction sites, such as sensors, cameras, and monitoring equipment introduces additional security risks. These devices may lack proper security measures and become entry points for attackers to infiltrate the network. Construction site equipment with outdated or unpatched software and firmware makes them susceptible to known vulnerabilities and exploits.

Lastly, harsh environmental conditions such as dust, moisture, and temperature fluctuations can damage network equipment and compromise its integrity, leading to network vulnerabilities. Addressing these vulnerabilities requires a multifaceted approach that includes implementing robust physical security measures, educating workers about cybersecurity best practices, securing network infrastructure and IoT devices, enforcing strong authentication and access controls, and regularly updating and patching software and firmware. Additionally, leveraging technologies such as network segmentation, encryption, and intrusion detection systems can help mitigate risks and enhance the overall security posture of connected jobsites.

Network Security Priorities

While there are many IT security priorities, it isn’t practical to try to tackle all of them on most connected jobsites.  Prioritizing security measures will become important to balance network performance, security, and ease of use for field and project management teams. Here are 5 key areas that affect connected jobsites.   

Access Control: Implementing robust access control mechanisms ensures that only authorized users have access to specific resources, data, or systems. This involves physical security, using strong authentication methods such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), and enforcing the principle of least privilege.

Data Encryption: Encrypting sensitive data helps protect it from unauthorized access or interception. Encryption algorithms and protocols should be carefully selected and implemented according to industry best practices. Private LTE networks can offer an added layer of security.

Security Awareness Training: Educating field teams and project management staff about security best practices, threats, and how to recognize and respond to potential security incidents is crucial in strengthening overall security. Regular training programs can help raise awareness and promote a security-conscious culture within the organization. A good example is to provide a shortlist of best practices that employees can use during toolbox talks where other items like jobsite safety are often discussed. 

Endpoint Security: Securing endpoints such as tablets, laptops, and mobile devices is essential to prevent malware infections, data breaches, and unauthorized access. This involves deploying endpoint protection solutions, implementing security patches and updates, and enforcing device encryption and security policies.

Physical Security: Protecting networking equipment from harsh environmental conditions at construction sites is a priority. Dust, moisture, and temperature fluctuations can damage network equipment and compromise its integrity. Using ruggedized equipment and locating wireless access points and routers where they are least susceptible to damage from construction equipment helps protect the organization’s network infrastructure from unauthorized access, damage, and other environmental threats.

A Simple 3-Step Plan for IT Security on Connected Jobsites

Implementing a simple three-step program can help construction firms mitigate IT security risks on construction projects effectively. Here’s an outline of such a program:

1. Assessment and Planning

Identify Assets and Risks: Begin by identifying the IT assets involved in the jobsite network, including devices, networking equipment, software, and data. Assess the potential security risks associated with each asset, considering factors such as physical security, connectivity, authentication, and data protection.

Risk Prioritization: Prioritize identified risks based on their likelihood and potential impact on the project’s objectives and stakeholders. Focus on addressing high-priority risks that pose the most significant threats to the jobsite’s IT security.

Develop Security Policies: Develop clear and comprehensive IT security policies and procedures tailored to the construction project’s requirements and constraints. Define roles and responsibilities, establish guidelines for data handling and access control, and outline procedures for incident response and risk management.

Allocate Resources: Allocate sufficient resources including budget, personnel, and technology to implement and maintain the proposed security measures effectively. Consider creating security training and awareness programs for field teams to enhance their understanding of IT security best practices.

2. Implementation and Execution

Secure Network Infrastructure: Implement security measures to protect the construction project’s network infrastructure including firewalls, encryption, network segmentation, and intrusion detection systems. Secure the wireless networks with strong encryption protocols and unique passwords to prevent unauthorized access.

Endpoint Security: Secure devices such as computers, laptops, and mobile devices with endpoint protection solutions, antivirus software, and regular software updates and patches. Enforce strong authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication, to control access to sensitive data and systems.

Secure Remote Access: Implement secure remote access solutions, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and remote desktop protocols (RDP), to enable safe remote collaboration and project management. Ensure that remote access methods are properly configured and authenticated to prevent unauthorized access.

Physical Security Measures: Implement physical security measures to protect IT assets and infrastructure on construction sites including access controls, surveillance cameras, and secure storage for sensitive equipment and data.

Third-party Risk Management: Assess and mitigate security risks associated with third-party vendors, contractors, and subcontractors involved in the construction project. Establish contractual agreements and security requirements for third parties to ensure compliance with IT security standards and practices.

3. Monitoring and Maintenance

Continuous Monitoring: Implement continuous monitoring and surveillance of the construction project’s IT infrastructure and systems to detect and respond to security incidents in real-time. Monitor network traffic, system logs, and security alerts for signs of unauthorized access, malware infections, or other security threats.

Regular Maintenance and Updates: Conduct regular maintenance activities including software updates, patches, and security configurations to keep IT systems and devices up-to-date and secure. Establish a schedule for routine security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address emerging security risks proactively.

Employee Training and Awareness: Provide ongoing security training and awareness programs for project management personnel and field teams to educate them about IT security risks, best practices, and procedures. Encourage employees to report security incidents and suspicious activities promptly and provide channels for reporting and escalation. By following this three-step program, construction firms can effectively mitigate IT security risks on connected jobsites and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of project data and systems. If you have questions or would like to learn more about improving the network security of your jobsites, please send us a message and we’d be happy to help

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