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Cybersecurity threats with LED smart lighting

Cybersecurity threats with LED smart lighting

By BizLED Bureau

Feb 26, 2016:  In this age of technology, everything is getting ‘smart’ and interconnected. Smart lighting systems are becoming a reality which connects every individual to a single smart device for operational purposes. This has generated a possibility in lighting systems to allow hackers to steal your personal information and much more. A lot depends on the design of the specific system involved and the quality of the installation. National Lighting Bureau (NLB) in association with EdisonReport, organized an event titled ‘Shedding Light on Light’ for their Annual Lighting Forum.

The panel comprise of elite from the lighting industry. One of the panellists raised concern over the systems that could allow hackers to gain control of the door locks of homes and hotel rooms from a remote location. As Wi-Fi enabled lighting systems are gaining popularity, the hackers can crack home network’s password and then access to anything connected to it. It was further discussed that few products have been designed specifically for negative purposes like an LED lamp that picks up confidential conversations and converting them to texts, before posting it over the network.

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Lighting controls are treated as an independent system so they cannot be used as a pathway to other building systems and the systems they are connected to, pointed James Yorgey, Bureau Chair. He further referred that such point-of-sale systems where customers’ credit-card information often is stored has a scope of information theft or hack attempt. This creates new roles and responsibilities for electrical contractors. In previous times, contractors only focused on electrical systems but today’s best-equipped contractors also are prepared to handle entire building’s electronic infrastructure.

Director of curriculum development for the Electrical Training Alliance, Marty Riesberg addressed the issue of contractors’ roles, emphasizing the need to prequalify contractors to help ensure they are qualified for the job. That depth of involvement also affects lighting designers as they now require more than just a passing knowledge of IT security issues. It was also pointed out how the installation-planning function had changed and planning a lighting system should also involve an organization’s IT department.

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Cybersecurity challenge relies heavily on teamwork than as those responsible for a building’s lighting system have to communicate directly with their counterparts involved in HVAC design. Most important reason being, is the shared responsibility for the IT systems involved. The best defense for an owner against such problems is to invest in quality, name-brand products and installers. Better installations ensure that nothing has been tampered with and no loophole has been left to appear after months or years of installation.

The panel discussion can be viewed, free of charge, at National Lighting Bureau website. The Bureau is an independent, IRS-recognized not-for-profit, educational foundation serving since 1976, as a trusted lighting-information source.

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