Cybersecurity in the Construction Industry

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Gain insights into the vast array of threats compromising construction industries’ cybersecurity.

[Featured image] Two construction workers gaze out at a construction site; one holds a tablet with information protected by strategies enhancing cybersecurity in the construction industry.

Any technology, methodology, or strategy used to prevent cyberattacks or reduce their impact falls within cybersecurity. Contrary to popular belief, cyberattacks extend beyond lucrative banking and fintech sectors and are prevalent across all industries, affecting government and private-sector organizations. In the aftermath of a cyberattack, organizations contend with substantial operational, financial, and reputational implications that can damage customer trust, brand image, and overall market standing.

Read on to discover the risks impacting the construction industry and to get tips for starting a career in cybersecurity. 

Why is cybersecurity important in the construction sector?

Globally, construction firms are embracing advanced technologies like AutoDesk and Building Information Management (BIM) software to streamline project planning. While this shift to a digital landscape enhances communication and overall project management, it also exposes the industry to external threats. The digitization of confidential and proprietary information renders infrastructure details, bid data, financial accounts, and employee credentials, among other sensitive business information, susceptible to exploitation. 

For example, in October 2023, US-based building materials producer Simpson Manufacturing was compelled to halt its IT systems after detecting a cyberattack. The same year, insurer Builders Mutual encountered a data breach involving unauthorized access to its employees' and policyholders' information.

The incidents highlight the growing need for robust cybersecurity within the construction sector. 

Top cybersecurity risks in the construction industry

Though not exhaustive, the following list offers a glimpse into the primary cybersecurity risks plaguing construction industries:

Read more: What Is Social Engineering?

1. Ransomware

A type of malware, ransomware encrypts target firms’ files or devices to make them inaccessible. The attackers contact the firm and demand it pay a ransom for them to release a decryption key to enable it to resume normal operations. Consequently, ransomware can potentially restrict a construction firm’s vital software and systems, causing unanticipated work delays and monetary losses. The average cost of a ransomware attack rose by 13 percent, reaching $5.13 million, compared to the previously reported figure of $4.54 million in 2022, according to IBM's 2023 data breach report [1].

2. Business email compromise 

Construction projects often undergo a public bidding process that reveals critical project information, including the identities of successful bidders. Transparent bidding, while imperative for fair competition, exposes construction firms to business email compromise (a form of phishing). In business email compromise fraud, deceptive emails with legitimate-looking invoices or wire transfer requests in a business email compromise fraud are sent. As a result, unsuspecting financial personnel within construction companies may be misled into transferring funds.

3. Credential stuffing  

In a credential-stuffing attack, cybercriminals use stolen credentials to access linked user accounts and data unlawfully. For instance, a contractor's credentials can serve as an entry point for hackers or infiltrators to extract valuable information from project management systems, particularly the contractor's customers' personally identifiable information (PII).

What constitutes a robust cybersecurity strategy?

An effective cybersecurity strategy safeguards every relevant layer or domain of IT infrastructure against unauthorized access and exploitation. Training employees on security best practices and integrating automated cyber defense technologies into legacy and existing IT infrastructure helps ensure a well-rounded approach to cybersecurity. Employee education promotes a proactive security culture, while automated technologies enhance the organization's ability to respond swiftly to potential threats. 

How to launch your cybersecurity career

Whether you’re a learner or a full-time employee, here are some steps you can take to start your cybersecurity career: 

1. Education

Due to the intricate nature of the job, cybersecurity employers typically prefer a degree. If your school doesn't provide a cybersecurity program, choosing a major in computer science or information systems serves as an excellent substitute.

If you're employed and already possess a bachelor's degree or prefer a shorter time commitment, consider enrolling in a bootcamp. With interactive learning videos and practical projects that allow participants to put what they’ve learned into practice. 

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2. Work experience

As a graduate, you can gain industry experience through entry-level cybersecurity positions. If you're switching careers as an experienced professional, internships and volunteer roles are promising avenues for acquiring relevant experience. 

Read more: 10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

3. Certification

Cybersecurity certifications are a great way to show potential employers your skills, knowledge, and dedication to your career. When deciding on a certification, it's crucial to factor in your professional goals, experience, and qualifications. Here are a few well-regarded cybersecurity certifications to target, depending on your career path:

Read more: 10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications

1. CompTIA Security+

Offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the CompTIA Security+ certification validates the foundational skills for executing core security functions and starting a career in IT security. This certification covers cybersecurity threats, architecture and design, security implementation, and more.

Expected average base salary: $84,000 [2]

Read more: What Is the CompTIA Security+ (Plus) Certification? Guide

2.  Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification by ISACA provides you with the expertise to evaluate risks, establish effective governance, and swiftly manage security incidents. This program is designed for information security professionals with some existing experience and expertise.

Expected average base salary: $136,000 [3]

3. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) 

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, offered by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), is ideal for seasoned security practitioners, managers, and executives seeking to prove their proficiency in industry-recognized security practices and principles.

Expected average base salary: $127,000 [4]

Read more: How to Get a Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP)

4. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Issued by the EC-Council, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is an intermediate-level certification, ideal for individuals with two years of experience in information technology (IT) security or those who have completed EC-Council training “Cybersecurity Essential Series.”

Expected average base salary: $86,897 [5]

Learn more with Coursera. 

Amp up your cybersecurity skills with the Foundations of Cybersecurity course on Coursera. Offered by Google, this course includes interactive videos and activities to help you prepare for an entry-level cybersecurity job. 

You may choose to complement the course mentioned above with IBM’s IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity Specialization, also available on Coursera. Through a four-course series, this Specialization will introduce you to crucial cybersecurity topics such as cryptography and digital forensics. Upon completing this Specialization, you become eligible for the IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity IBM digital badge.

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