The construction industry is making great strides by leveraging AI technologies such as machine learning and robotics, among others. However, the industry lags behind in data security and privacy initiatives compared to others, according to an expert.

These new technologies still require data security and privacy risk assessments and proper controls in place, something that may be a second thought for those in the construction industry, said Shijas Mohidheen, the Director of Cybersecurity at Hilal Computers.

Hilal Computers is a legally authorised and approved vendor that provides cyber security consultancy, governance, and cyber technologies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated when attacking the construction industry, a key sector that is growing rapidly by adopting new technologies and going digital. This sensitive data needs to be protected," noted Mohidheen.

The exposure of cyber-attacks in construction, in part, is amplified by the amount of confidential and proprietary information digitally stored and shared across projects and their long information technology (IT) chains, he added.

Cautioning the companies on the looming threat, Mohideen said the main cyber-attacks that could hit a construction firm are in the form of ransomware; fraudulent wire transfer; downtime or business interruption; breach of intellectual property and breach of bid data.

"To keep data safe, companies must identify and address vulnerabilities and be aware of the risks associated with cyberattacks. To prevent such attacks, cloud computing has been adopted by many leading construction firms, as it is seen by some to be more secure than software installed locally," explained Mohidheen.

"It is essential for construction businesses to have a solid cybersecurity reputation and to protect their sensitive information. Hilal’s government-grade security and managed security services provide many businesses with secure data protection and daily monitoring," he stated.

Hilal Computers is listed on the website of the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) Saudi Arabia.

Mohidheen pointed out each of these cyber-attacks will hit businesses in a different manner.

"In the case of Downtime or Business Disruption, the construction industry is heavily reliant on the ability to deliver projects on a deadline. A cyber-attack on a construction company’s software or equipment could potentially cause a delay in the project until the cyber-attack is properly addressed," he said.

"In the competitive construction sector in Saudi Arabia it is vital to protect a company’s intellectual property whether it be in the form of designs, blueprints or bidding strategies or information from being exposed to lose any competitive edge," he added.

Mohidheen said it was important to put safeguards in place to prevent cyber-attacks from occurring as their effects were becoming more damaging to the industry.

"The solutions are not a 'one size fits all' but requires to be designed according to the needs and budgets of construction companies," he explained.

"We have options available not only reliant on cybersecurity software, but advice on levels of defensive walls to protect data and of course the companies' internal policies and procedures. Sophisticated software will be of little help if passwords and entry points are left vulnerable for cyber-hackers," he added.

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