Cyber challenges: how to protect high buildings

James Murray-Parkes
Science & Engineering Director, Multiplex Engineering Innovations Group
Multiplex, Melbourne

Cyber is all around us. Computers control the electricity. Elevators, fire alarm systems, air condition, etc. most of those computers are not protected and not connected, which means someone can take control of our crucial systems from remote places.
Imagine what happens if someone stops the elevators in any tall building at 9AM, or if the air-condition starts cooling in February in NYC (or heating in Dallas in August), not mentioning fire alarm or water systems start or stop working.
Penetrating our systems is easy. Via nearly every item (camera, elevator, electricity or even a computer) the attacker can get hold of a single system or of the whole building, using Wi-Fi or other methods to move from one system to another and enlarge the damage.
This is not imagination. Cyber is here, and it is a challenge that we do not fully understand: upon planning our buildings and operating them, not knowing how vulnerable we are – being in the hands of other people who can attack at any given moment for money or for terror/crime purposes.
It is a world in which countries are involved, as well as crime and terror organizations, using easy passages of computers to take charge of our life – when they decide to do so. The consequences are enormous: from immediate chaos to financial and insurance problems and obviously to the life of the people that we serve.
The team which I'm involved with offers a solution to that challenge. Operated by experts and involving cutting-edge technology, we are looking on ways to make tall buildings safer for planners, owners, managers and users.

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