Traditional architecture, engineering and environmental consulting (AEC) firms are in the middle of a makeover, with spreadsheets and calculators taking a backseat to big data, technology and software. With increasing speed, AEC firms are utilizing technology-driven capabilities to provide more service offerings and improve efficiency. This means they require proactive cybersecurity strategies to protect their business. The bottom line is: AEC firms are making strategic investments in cyber security.

More and more MSPs today are understanding what it takes to scale their business growth—and expansion is now a cross-vertical voyage. In 2019, it's in your best interest to consider how you can target new and less-chartered land, like the AEC space, for one. This blog series will touch on some key verticals to start exploring, dipping your toes into and, eventually, dominating!

According to BDC Network:

“Fraud, cyber attacks, and security risks continue to plague the construction, engineering and infrastructure sector at high levels, according to senior corporate executives surveyed worldwide for the 2017/18 Kroll Annual Global Fraud & Risk Report. The survey by the risk solutions provider found that 83% of respondents experienced at least one fraud incident in 2017. Nearly all (93%) reported a cyber incident, and 67% reported some other kind of security incident.”


The Reasons for Cyber Security

Buildings are slowly but increasingly connected to Internet of Things (IoT) networks, with building management systems storing user information on everything from HVAC usage to lighting preferences.

Architects and builders have welcomed significant shifts in their digital workflow with cloud-based BIM software for remote project coordination, internet file hosting for global accessibility, and virtual workspaces for team communication. 

AEC Projects often involve large amounts of outside consultants and collaborators—Virtual team-members who CAN’T be overseen for security best practices.

AEC Firms are required to maintain & backup ever-growing amounts of data for up to 15 years for compliance and legal reasons, while maintaining highly available I.T. environments.

But you can help! You understand how important it is for your AEC clients to have a real proactive cybersecurity solution. Here are 7 crucial AEC industry tips that will help you to implement a robust solution.


Steps to Secure Your AEC Clients

1. Internal Policy

Develop an organizational security policy for your clients that considers their unique responsibilities to THEIR clients and to themselves as business owners. Architects have a unique responsibility to be compliant, especially designing publicly used spaces.

2. Compliance

Ensure your clients are aware of and adhere to the compliance requirements for each project—especially government projects (confidentiality, record-keeping, etc). You can learn more about how to comply with new cyber security standards here.

3. IOT Aware

Ensure your clients think about security and avoid major risks when designing building automation, HVAC control, etc. systems (preventing something like this from happening).

4. Cloud Storage

Partner with cloud file storage vendors, like Autodesk or Egnyte, that provide content governance, user audit ability and a focus on the AEC industry.

5. Mobile Device Management

Secure and manage phones and tablets used for remote or job site work. This includes encrypting data on company laptops, data containers on phones and remote wipe capability.

6. Authentication

Set strong passwords, using two-factor authentication, and using federated identity and single sign-on to reduce the risk of stolen passwords.

7. Business Continuity

Design, implement and test a backup and disaster recovery system that takes long periods of data retention into account.


White Space Opportunity

The managed IT services opportunity for the AEC industry is still relatively new, and as this vertical emerges as a lucrative growth strategy for MSPs, there’s no telling how many new and successful strategies for employing SaaS-based solutions will be devised for better IT management and greater growth. And, while there are still wide-open opportunities in this vertical, the sky’s the limit for the new business you can add and support.


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