The web ‘wasn’t designed to be safe’: Gilbane CIO

Cybersecurity incidents are on the rise, and contractors must be ready.

Karen Higgins-Carter, the chief info and digital officer for Windfall, Rhode Island-based Gilbane Constructing Co., brings a wealth of expertise from earlier roles defending the banking and monetary providers industries from cyber criminals. She warns that the web wasn’t initially constructed to be safe, and that the onus is on contractors to verify they’re as much as snuff on in the present day’s safety calls for.

Right here, Higgins-Carter spoke with Development Dive about the place the most important threats come from, how Gilbane retains its staff updated and what the business can do to guard itself.

Editor’s Notice: This interview has been edited for brevity and readability.

CONSTRUCTION DIVE: What’s the state of cybersecurity within the building business?

KAREN HIGGINS-CARTER: I’ll begin with my view on cybersecurity usually. I feel it is vital to grasp two issues. First, the web was not designed to be safe. It was designed to be open. Second, we’re going to proceed to see a quantity of assaults coming from international locations which might be successfully protected harbor for this kind of exercise.

A headshot of Karen Higgins-Carter

Karen Higgins-Carter

Permission granted by Gilbane Constructing Co.


Due to that surroundings, we’re seeing the regulatory response. SEC disclosure necessities being initially, that have been carried out in December.

What I discover is the necessity to modify and join with our folks primarily based upon their present degree of consciousness. There is a predictable cycle of bringing our folks from a place of probably not being conscious of the threats to feeling invested in defending the corporate and being on board with that mission.

How do you get everybody to an optimum degree of consolation with cybersecurity when their experiences differ?

One of many issues that we’ve got carried out in constructing, when it comes to our innovation practices, is accountable innovation. That it is vital to take dangers with a view to develop. 

There is no such thing as a risk-free path to reaching your strategic aims. 

The place that is vital in innovation is knowing, how does this innovation assist our strategic targets? What are the inherent cybersecurity dangers that we have to determine? And, as a part of experimentation, and scaling and innovation, we have to make sure that we’re mitigating these dangers on the identical time. There is a degree of consciousness that occurs by way of the method of innovating.

What are the most important dangers to builders proper now on the cybersecurity entrance?

As for the 2 greatest assault vectors, the primary is phishing. That is why consciousness is so crucial, as a result of persons are the primary line of protection towards phishing assaults.

The second assault floor entails utility programming interfaces. Our connectivity to 3rd events and third-party software program suppliers is the following most outstanding menace. 

The place that performs into our business, and the place there’s actually a possibility for management, is in working with our software program distributors. 

With the current funding in building know-how, and many startups, safety’s not essentially first on their roadmap when it comes to demonstrating early returns for his or her buyers. 

Recognizing that we are able to have a collective voice as an business and assist these software program distributors attain a better degree of functionality, significantly in securing APIs. Distributors can generally make it sound very straightforward, and it’s actually one thing that we, as finish customers, have to handle.

What does Gilbane do to maintain itself safe?

By way of ranging from a technique perspective, our board is engaged in cybersecurity. Now we have drafted what we name a cybersecurity threat urge for food assertion. That is a observe that I introduced over from banking, which is figuring out how a cybersecurity assault creates losses for Gilbane and impacts our prospects.

So we determine these prime dangers, after which primarily based on that view, how it could impression us. Now we have a cybersecurity program the place we prioritize our cybersecurity investments in processes and in controls to mitigate these dangers.

We prioritize safeguarding our purchasers’ confidential info. We safeguard our staff knowledge as a result of that’s personally identifiable info. There’s different inner details about a few of our investments in our growth firm.

I’d say the opposite facet of what we defend is a disruption in a enterprise course of. 

If our jobsite cannot carry out, as a result of both Gilbane or certainly one of our commerce contractors has a ransomware assault and might’t entry their programs, we additionally take a look at how a crucial enterprise course of could be impacted, after which, the way you handle by way of that impression.

What can building study from the banking and monetary fields on cybersecurity?

First, I feel we are able to actually collaborate on menace intelligence. 

And I do not imply common finest observe sharing. I imply very particular menace intelligence, such that we are able to collaborate and work collectively on stopping that very same menace from impacting one other enterprise.

I feel the second factor that we are able to do is collectively and proactively outline our safety expectations, significantly for software program distributors.

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