What is your take on hackers impact on HVAC systems (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

What is your take on hackers’ impact on HVAC systems?

Are HVAC Systems Safe From Hackers?

Hacking is a common concern when you’re on your PC making purchases or entering personal information, but what about HVAC systems installed in buildings? Are those safe?

John Hicks of the Washington Post recently posted that a report from the Government Accountability Office showed that the Department of Homeland Security currently does not have a handle on these risks. This leaves security systems, elevators, HVAC systems and more at risk of disgruntled employees and malicious hackers.

“No one within DHS is assessing or addressing cyber risk to building and access control systems … in part, because cyber threats involving these systems are an emerging issue” the report said.

Recently, HPAC Engineering’s Scott Arnold wrote that the global market for the Internet of Things is poised to exceed $85 billion by 2020, according to research consultant Memoori. The market for systems in buildings will reach $111 billion by this year, with a predicted growth to $181 billion by 2020.

“The value in the Internet of Things is as much in the data as the device,” Memoori says. “Collecting data from more building services and equipment will provide a much more granular view of exactly how each building is performing. Building-equipment manufacturers and providers must start selling systems that collect, store, and analyze data in the cloud so they can use it to provide better operational efficiency for their clients.”

However, while this can provide great insights, it also makes HVAC systems, as well as other parts of the building, more susceptible to hackers. Mike Weil wrote on our website in August 2013 that those in the HVAC mechanical systems industry must be aware of these issues and know that a compromised system at a customer’s building will mean big problems for all involved.

It's unfortunate that such a wonderful technology provides opportunity for the unscrupulous, but by designing systems and products that provide countermeasures, and by making sure hacking is considered in all installations, we can put a dent in this growing problem.

What is your take on hackers’ impact on HVAC systems? Do you have a method of protecting your business’ systems?

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