Now that Europe is taking the first steps towards economic and social recovery after the COVID-19 crisis, it is also time to rethink the future. European politicians and institutions are now joining forces to present a recovery plan that builds on existing plans and ambitions to make the society healthier, more environmentally friendly, more energy efficient and safer.

Euralarm calls on policymakers to take measures to increase the security of renovated buildings and to strengthen the cohesion of the European Union. The EU Recovery Plan that is soon expected will push for investments and reform. It will strengthen the EU economy by focusing on common priorities, like the European Green Deal, digitalization and resilience. In recent months, European citizens experienced what it means to be confined to one's home all day.

Fire safety requirements

With around 250 million homes across the EU that need energy renovation, now more than ever, it is time for the EU to invest in renovating homes, offices, schools and other private and public buildings. The Renovation Wave as part of the Green Deal is therefore welcomed by Euralarm and many other stakeholders. Boosting the rate of deep renovation in all buildings not only improves energy efficiency but also economic growth.

Building renovation and retrofit add almost twice as much value as the construction of new buildings

Building renovation and retrofit add almost twice as much value as the construction of new buildings. While investing more in renovations, governments and authorities as well as building owners need to pay attention to the implications on the fire safety of buildings because renovations can introduce significant changes in fire safety requirements.

Energy efficiency measures

With the growing number of electronic and electrical devices in buildings, (e.g. energy storage as part of the energy efficiency measures, electric cars), the fire load in buildings will continue to increase and must be considered in the overall fire safety concept. Regular fire safety reviews - including risk assessment - by certified professionals are today even more crucial and should be prioritised by private and public building owners and operators.

As one of the Green Deal proposals the “Renovation Wave” is a unique opportunity to introduce a holistic approach towards fire safety and security when renovating buildings. Safe and secure buildings will contribute to the new European economy as well as the future European ecology. Euralarm therefore calls on EU decision makers to encourage all renovated buildings to be fitted with the latest technologies in terms of fire safety and security.

Fire safety systems

During the crisis, large parts of the European workforce had no other choice than to work from home, using teleconference and digital co-operation tools to continue their daily work. In just a few months, remote work has accelerated the digitalization of the European economy. With ambitious measures supporting a “Digital Recovery”, the digital transformation can be confirmed and amplified in the short term.

In the building industry, they have seen the effects of a slow adoption of digitalization and they welcome an acceleration of the digital transformation. During this crisis, connectivity has proven to be pivotal to remote work. It became clear that wherever the company’s members had remote access to security and fire safety systems, there has been no disruption of service provided. The company continued to ensure the safety of the people and infrastructure.

Cybersecurity strategy

Pivotal to ensure business continuity, connectivity must be immune to cyber-threats

Pivotal to ensure business continuity, connectivity must be immune to cyber-threats. Euralarm recommends to reassess the European cybersecurity strategy. Some sectors of the industry – including services – have specificities that should be taken into consideration when rethinking the cybersecurity strategy.

The EU Recovery Plan is a unique opportunity to bring the Single Market back on track and to definitely address unjustified barriers that remain in place for products and for services. In this sector, and despite all the efforts to create European standards for products, systems and services, obstacles remain for cross-border trade, especially for SMEs. It is now time to put an end to these barriers and work together towards a society that shares and cares.

Sector-specific measures

Again, it is the COVID-19 crisis that demonstrates the crucial need that barriers are definitely removed. Therefore, Euralarm calls on the European Commission to engage in a consultation with stakeholders most affected by these remaining barriers to find sector-specific measures to achieve the long-expected Single Market in Europe.

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Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security
Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security

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We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorized to connect to an organization's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorized devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organizations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organizations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. 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What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?
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