Photo 217658546 © One Photo |
Dreamstime M 217658546

Smart Water Systems and Cybersecurity

Sept. 22, 2023
To enjoy the many benefits of IoT devices while avoiding the threat of large-scale cyber attacks, IoT security best practices must be adhered to at all times.

The development of smart cities and smart communities is expected to increase dramatically over the next few decades, so much so that some reports claim as many as 60% of the world’s population may live in smart cities by 2050.

And smart cities mean smart water systems. Plumbers may install IoT water flow sensors to detect changes in pipe flow rates, with systems designed to report metrics frequently and automatically alert if water use changes drastically. This allows teams to quickly locate potential leaks and prioritize repairs based on accurate data.

Temperature sensors deployed to automatically alert teams if water temperatures drop below a predetermined level can mitigate issues regarding burst pipes; smart meters can help tenants more accurately monitor live usage of water resources.

Smart water systems show great potential when it comes to predictive maintenance. IoT sensors can be installed to monitor above and below ground pipes and programmed to analyze typical utility usage. This data is then processed and stored in a cloud-based system to help teams assess how pipes respond to regular use. Data suggests such a process may be able to reduce the frequency of breakdowns by up to 70%, while decreasing downtime by around 50%.

Comprehensive Security

With more communities reliant on smart technology systems to control the operation of essential utilities, building management tools and physical security devices, comprehensive IoT security considerations will become increasingly important.

The frequency and severity of sophisticated cyber attacks has been seen to increase in recent years, with reports claiming the number of recorded cyber attacks rose by almost 40% between 2021-2022, and the average cost of an attack grew by 15% over 3 years to reach $4.45 million.

To ensure that modern communities and contractors working in the construction industry remain able to enjoy the benefits of IoT devices, without facing the threat of large-scale cyber attacks, IoT security best practices must be adhered to at all times.

Best Practices

Zero Trust Policies

Access to all IoT devices such as sensors used to measure utility usage, control security tools and operate building management systems must be protected behind zero trust policies. This means all users (including contractors and tenants) will be required to provide verification each time a device is accessed or adjusted. Pursuing a zero trust approach helps to prevent attacks spreading throughout connected systems by reducing the attack surface available to hackers,

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Unique user profiles must be created for all contractors, tenants and property owners to help security teams monitor how systems are used. These profiles should be secured using MFA policies, whereby users are expected to produce multiple forms of verification before access to secure systems will be granted. Credentials typically include a combination of one-time access codes, passwords and biometrics, with data suggesting MFA may prevent up to 99% of attacks.

End-to-End Encryption

It’s estimated that up to 98% of IoT device traffic is unencrypted, meaning the sensitive data stored within many IoT systems may be vulnerable to cyber attacks. To prevent hackers gaining access to important smart technology systems, teams must ensure that all communications sent between IoT devices and wider management portals are secured using end-to-end encryption. In short, this ensures data remains unreadable to anyone without authorized access credentials.

Response and Recovery Plans

If IoT systems are compromised, admins must have clear response and recovery plans in place. Roles and responsibilities must be discussed to ensure teams know who’s in charge of securing and assessing individual systems, while backups of important data must be readily available to make sure essential systems can be reprogrammed and turned back on as quickly as possible.


Smart technologies and IoT devices are continuing to transform the way modern communities function, enabling contractors to perform tasks with improved efficiency, and helping residents to better manage their utility and property security systems. However, the adoption of IoT devices rises, so too can the security risks associated with large-scale cyber attacks and data breaches.

For contractors, security personnel and residents to safely enjoy the benefits of smart building technologies, IoT security best practices must be followed at all times. Users must be frequently verified, MFA policies must be implemented, data must be encrypted and detailed response and recovery plans must be in place. This way, modern communities can be protected from threats.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Contractor, create an account today!