Construction firms are being viewed as easy pickings for cyber criminals, warns Swansea tech expert

Paul Hooper, MD of Swansea-based Uplands Communications

Construction business are being urged to beef up their security measures if they don’t want to be seen as a soft target by cyber criminals, warns tech experts, Uplands Communications.

Building companies are increasingly seen as attractive targets by cyber thieves, due to their typically high cash-flows, extensive use of sub-contractors and suppliers, large numbers of high value payments and their regular processing of financial information.

Paul Hooper, MD of Swansea-based Uplands Communications, warns: “More than 80 percent of UK organisations experienced a successful cyber attack in 2021/2022 and we are seeing a worrying spike in incidences of construction firms being put in the sights of these criminals – construction is now one of the leading industries impacted by data security issues. Many construction companies see a lot of money pass through their books, but they have often grown from small businesses – sometimes one man bands, so their security measures might not have kept pace with their growth. This is an issue that was recently acknowledged by the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) and the Chartered

Institute of Building (CIOB), who produced some very useful bespoke guidance this year, aimed at small to medium sized construction firms, around boosting cyber security. And here at Upland’s we have a number of clients in the construction industry who have come to us because been targeted in this way by increasingly sophisticated criminals. Making sure businesses have adequate security in place to protect their data and their operations is an integral part of what we do.

Nathanael Challacombe Group HSQE and IT Manager from construction firm, Barnwood Limited says: “Cyber attacks have become part of the business landscape and they are something we take very seriously. Our operations and our reputation depends upon us being able to keep our data and our financial operations secure. This requires vigilance on our part, but we are not tech experts and it is important that we work with experts in this field who have the expertise and the technology and systems that can protect us. This is why we work closely with Uplands on this matter. We are very aware, too, that this is not a one-off issue. You cannot simply have a modern telecoms system installed and then feel as if you have all the necessary safeguards in place. We rely upon a regular audit of our systems and an audit of how we are using these systems – particularly when we do so remotely – to make sure we are being as vigilant as we can.”

Paul adds: “Barnwood’s approach is a savvy one. Cyber crime is, unfortunately a relatively low risk one for the criminals, but it is one that can pay real dividends for them. Smartphones and tablets are widely used, email is a key form of communication with clients and suppliers, and cloud storage is increasingly used to store information – everything from contracts to CAD drawings. Intellectual property is valuable to cybercriminals, as is corporate banking information, financial accounts, and employee personal data. Being aware of, and shutting off any potential areas of vulnerability is essential for businesses of all kinds.”