As more housing providers migrate to the cloud, they’re gaining access to a wealth of tools and services that should benefit both their tenants and their businesses.
However, when moving to the cloud, any organisation must overcome a few initial challenges that they might not have faced using a traditional IT set-up, and these hurdles aren’t only for the IT team to solve. For example, where on-premise IT is capex-heavy, cloud infrastructure is almost entirely opex-based. Consequently, housing providers’ finance teams need to pivot their accounting practices and accommodate fluctuating costs as cloud consumption rises and falls.
Cloud computing, which typically runs on a pay-as-you-go approach, ensures customers always have access to the most up-to-date software and hardware to run their businesses, paying only as and when they use it, with zero or minimal up-front charges.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Housing providers have a huge duty of care for millions of people across the UK. This responsibility has come under widespread scrutiny recently, with news of damp and mouldy homes leading to serious health issues for some residents. But, as often happens, where there’s a problem affecting large numbers of people, someone invents a solution, especially if there’s a profit to be made.
The digital age continues to inspire innovative people to overcome all manner of challenges. We’re currently seeing a wave of innovation around the internet of things (IoT). Billions of IoT devices are now used in almost every walk of life and every business sector; IDC estimates there will be 42 billion IoT devices around the world by 2025.
Located in homes, IoT sensors can measure moisture levels and temperature without anyone needing to enter the home. Data can be collected as frequently as needed so that a housing provider can understand the environment of each property. It’s no different from using smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as convenient and affordable early warning systems. Imagine this set-up across entire property portfolios of thousands of homes.
With laws around home safety tightening in the UK, remote IoT-based monitoring systems could soon be commonplace. IoT sensors can now give us information we couldn’t collect until recently. They are also driving an exponential rise in the volume of data that organisations need to store and analyse.
Protecting the technology from adversaries
However, while IoT is solving numerous problems, it does have a weakness and one that’s been exploited many times in the past few years. IoT devices, together with the operational technology (OT) devices used in industrial processes, have been developed at break-neck speed but adequate security hasn’t been built around them. While cyber-security put energy, thought and resources into the in-depth defence of the core parts of the IT estate, the newer IoT devices at the edges were seriously under-protected.
Cybercriminals, who are always looking for the easiest way to breach organisations to steal their data, know all too well about IoT and OT flaws and have successfully attacked these devices to move laterally through the IT networks of numerous companies.
Founded in 2016, Quorum Cyber was born in the cloud and has designed and built its cyber-security services to defend the full breadth of any organisation’s IT ecosystem. Our managed extended detection and response (XDR) service monitors absolutely everything, from any vendor, be it on-premise or in the cloud, in IoT or OT, and any cloud environment, including from Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.
We’ve years of experience safeguarding some of the leading housing providers in the UK as well as a range of public, private and non-profit organisations around the world. Although we’re a team of cyber-security and technology experts, we don’t see cyber-security as a technology problem but a risk management challenge.
Mike Upton is head of public sector at Quorum Cyber.