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Communications of the ACM


How to Increase the Security of Smart Buildings?

How to Increase the Security of Smart Buildings?, illustration

Credit: Franck Boston

In recent years, known vulnerabilities such as in the Tridium Niagara AX Framework,a Siemens' energy automation device,b or Vaillant heating systemsc put a spotlight on the security of smart buildings. What is needed to increase the security of smart buildings and what research aspects did we forget to cover in recent years?

Smart buildings are automated buildings designed to save costs, to increase our safety and comfort, and to be environmentally friendly4 while being able to interact with other smart things and the energy grid. When we think of a smart building, we may first think of a home in the suburbs or of a high-tech flat for techies. This impression is, however, only a small pixel in the big picture of smart buildings. While smart homes become an increasingly integral part of today's cities and villages, smart buildings can be found in other areas, too. In factory buildings, building automation technologies handle the physical access control to prevent undesired visitors; in greenhouses, building automation equipment ensures the temperature, humidity, and illumination are kept at the optimal level for the growth of plants; in server rooms, we find equipment that handles the air conditioning to prevent servers from overheating; and in airports, we find automated building components almost everywhere, ranging from elevators to smoke detectors and fire alarms to electric window shutters.


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