The biggest cybersecurity threats facing flex spaces

8 min read
05/12/2023

Tech companies are at the forefront of multi-tenant space adoption. And more than a third are planning to double their use of flex spaces.

But that doesn’t mean that workspace operators and landlords will inevitably see growth over the coming years. Organisations call out that their biggest obstacles to broader flex space adoption include IT security and data privacy.

It’s easy to see where they’re coming from. While features like accessibility and shared facilities are major selling points for flex spaces, they can also be taken advantage of if proper measures aren’t taken. 

Attacks from hackers and bad-faith actors don’t just spell harm for your tenants — they seriously affect your bottom line and potential for growth.

Combatting these threats is critical to:

  • Appealing to tenants that are still sceptical of expanding their flex space adoption
  • Upgrading the capabilities of your existing flex space portfolio
  • Rising above competitors

Here, we will take you through the biggest cybersecurity threats that are facing flex spaces, so that you can arm yourself with techniques to protect your portfolio and your tenants. We will explain how necessary functions like shared internet connections can continue to provide you value without compromising on security, and how the right flex space management platform can help you see results.

Suggested reading: Strict technical, security, and service-level requirements are more important to flex spaces than ever. Enhance your cybersecurity protocols with our guide to Digital Security for CRE

WiFi security vulnerabilities

There’s a fine line to strike between providing easily accessible WiFi in your flex space without compromising security. Common threats to look out for include:

  • Eavesdropping risks: Cybercriminals can exploit unencrypted or weakly encrypted WiFi networks to intercept sensitive data. This data interception can range from capturing login credentials to accessing confidential business information.
  • Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks: In these sophisticated attacks, hackers insert themselves between the user and the network. They can then manipulate communication, steal data, or even redirect users to malicious sites.
  • Rogue access point and evil twins: These are unauthorised WiFi access points set up by attackers, often mimicking legitimate networks. Unsuspecting users connecting to these networks expose themselves to data theft and surveillance.
  • WiFi spoofing and sniffing: Attackers use specialised software to eavesdrop on WiFi signals. This practice allows them to capture data packets containing sensitive information transmitted over the network.

How to keep your WiFi connectivity secure

The best strategy to take here is to invest in a WiFi solution that grants your tenants seamless access across your entire flex space portfolio while retaining sophisticated security measures. 

Namely, one that encrypts and authorises access based on personal credentials, rather than relying on shared passwords. This not only ensures that access is contained to your registered tenants, but also retains their ability to flexibly move between workspaces in your portfolio. So if they’ve connected to a network in a workspace of yours in London, they can walk into another workspace of yours in New York and connect their devices with ease and total protection.

For added security, prioritise a platform that also offers secure connectivity options for guests. For example, granting limited access to workspace visitors through a shared VLAN that is isolated from your tenants’ VLAN traffic.

Malware and ransomware

Malware and ransomware represent some of the most insidious cybersecurity threats and can be risky in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) age. Here, a single compromised device can lead to widespread network infection — even across your entire portfolio of flex spaces.

  • Malware: Malware, short for malicious software, encompasses various forms of harmful software designed to infiltrate and damage systems. In flex spaces, where numerous devices connect to shared networks, the risk of malware spread is amplified. A single infected device can act as a channel, allowing malware to go past one network and infect other systems, stealing data, corrupting files, or even hijacking system resources.
  • Ransomware: Ransomware takes malware’s impact a step further by encrypting the victim’s data or locking them out of their systems, demanding a ransom for access restoration. This type of attack can cripple operations, leading to significant downtime and financial losses.
  • Infection vectors: Common vectors for the above threats include phishing emails, compromised websites, and unsecured network connections. While these may seem irrelevant to shared workspaces, constant movement of tenants and guests in and out of your flex space buildings can increase your exposure. Especially when you take into account inconsistent cybersecurity practices and protocols across your range of tenants.

How to defend your flex spaces against malware and ransomware

While the end user will be responsible for keeping their device secure, there are strategies you can take to protect your workspace and tenant security. 

A flex space management platform that offers segregated, encrypted security is additionally helpful here, as it can stop potential malware or ransomware threats in their tracks.

However, one that also offers visibility and analytics capabilities is particularly important in granting you control. Having an end-to-end understanding of your tenants’ digital experiences can help you identify any potential gaps in security in your networks and how your tenants interact with your workspace.

Little to no standardised security protocols

The diversity of tenants in flex spaces, each with their own set of devices and security practices, creates a complex security landscape. One of the most significant cybersecurity threats stems from the lack of standardised security protocols, costing security and data protection in your flex space.

  • Varying security procedures: In a flex space, each tenant may have their own set of security practices and policies, or in some cases, none at all. This disparity creates a patchwork of security postures, leaving gaps that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
  • Compliance risks and challenges: A lack of uniform security protocols can lead to serious compliance risks. Different industries are governed by specific regulations regarding data protection and privacy and non-compliance not only poses legal risks — it will seriously damage your reputation as a flex space provider.
  • Inconsistent security measures: Without standardised protocols, the implementation of essential security measures like regular software updates, firewall configurations, and intrusion detection systems can be inconsistent. Some tenants might diligently update their systems, while others may use outdated software, creating vulnerabilities within the shared network.

How to introduce robust security protocols

Addressing these challenges comes down to having better security posture, as well as guaranteed compliance with various regulatory requirements. 

Ensure that your space has checks in place for regular backups and disaster recovery plans, in the event that something goes wrong: this includes built-in redundancy systems, and DDoS protection and bandwidth monitoring.

Addressing multiple common compliance standards is especially important as your workspace will have a range of different industries working within them, all of which have their own unique requirements. When it comes to cybersecurity measures, the particularly critical ones to adhere to include ISO 9001 and ISO 27001, which are related to operational resilience and sensitive data management, respectively.

Combat flex space cybersecurity threats with essensys 

As the flex space industry continues to grow, it’s critical that workspace operators and landlords alike prioritise meeting (and exceeding) the expectations of their tenants. 

While the above information on potential cybersecurity threats and steps you can take to combat them provide a good starting point, actioning them can be easier said than done without expert-led support.

At essensys, we provide our client base of large, established flex space providers the ability to keep their portfolios highly secure and operationally efficient in equal measure. Our state-of-the-art essensys Platform and essensys Cloud solution ensure end-to-end security, backed by features such as:

    • Secure WiFi access: Advanced WiFi access for both tenants and visitors alike. All tenants are protected with their own private VLAN — and every user gets their own unique login credentials, enabling easy decommissioning of users and direction to the correct one, every time. 
    • Added privacy and connectivity: With essensys Cloud, you can connect your sites to the world’s largest global private network dedicated to commercial real estate, enabling private peering with critical cloud services and secure, smart connectivity for your tenants.
  • Advanced tenant insights: The added capabilities of essensys Lens grant you total visibility and monitoring of your tenants’ digital journeys across your portfolio, including connected sites, networks, devices and critical applications.
  • Security & compliance: We hold crucial accreditations, including ISO9001, ISO27001, and SOC2, for quality management, information security, and cybersecurity controls across a variety of industries.
  • Total support: Our software’s automation capabilities as well as our team’s regular monitoring and management support free up your time and resources, whilst keeping your flex spaces secure and efficient.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you defend your flex spaces against cybersecurity threats, just get in touch!

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In this article

  • WiFi security vulnerabilities
  • How to keep your WiFi connectivity secure
  • Malware and ransomware
  • How to defend your flex spaces against malware and ransomware
  • Little to no standardised security protocols
  • How to introduce robust security protocols
  • Combat flex space cybersecurity threats with essensys¬†

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Featured

The rise of the digital tenant: navigating flex space in the tech-driven era

3 min read
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By Lily Bennett

In this blog, we explore 5 key considerations shaping the world of flex spaces in the era of the digital tenant.

Read the article

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In a recent webinar, we were joined by WiredScore to discuss how smart buildings are shaping the future of office space.

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