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The role of security service edge in MOL Group’s IoT-enabled smart building headquarters


When MOL Group commissioned renowned architectural firm Foster + Partners to build the most modern office building in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, we had a bold vision in mind. Our 85-year-old global oil and gas company wanted to redesign the employee experience and create the office of the future. The new smart building headquarters in Budapest, Hungary uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology to monitor, analyze, and automate various aspects of the facility. Building automation systems and related sensors and devices will play a vital part in the daily usage and operations, such as building comfort (lighting levels, temperature, views), multimedia, security, entry, parking, and safety features. 

Benefits of our new smart building
Our new 28-story smart building accommodates up to 2,500 employees and provides a significantly better work experience for our current workforce. At the same time, it helps us attract new talent as we build out our high-quality, mobile, and tech-savvy workforce.

The building offers a truly twenty-first century modern workplace experience, from the physical to the digital. There are restaurants, a conference center, and a host of other facilities for staff. Flexible office spaces act as a social catalyst and create spaces for collaboration, relaxation, and inspiration. 

State-of-the-art IoT technology throughout the facility will increase collaboration between colleagues, and, as a result, we’re expecting to see productivity increase. The building provides optimal comfort through better air quality, lighting, and sanitation. Another big plus is that it helps us achieve important environmental goals: to reduce energy consumption and lower operating costs.

Risks and vulnerabilities of unprotected IoT devices
Along with the great benefits of IoT-enabled smart buildings come risks. As head of cybersecurity strategy & architecture, my job is focused on risk reduction. While I marvel at the efficiency and design of our new headquarters, finding better ways to secure this IoT-driven environment is continually on my mind. IoT devices tend to be vulnerable to cybercrime attacks for many reasons. IoT devices broaden the attack surface. Most IoT device traffic communicates on unencrypted plain text channels, leaving them vulnerable to hackers. The devices can be difficult to patch, and they often lack robust security capabilities. 

An unsecured IoT device is like leaving a window unlocked. If breached, it could take months before the malware is detected, and the consequences of such an attack could be serious. While the Target breach may seem like ancient history in the cybersecurity world, it certainly was an eye-opener for many of us. In 2013, hackers infiltrated Target’s internal networks through their HVAC system’s devices, and subsequently gained access to massive amounts of sensitive data.

It became obvious to me back then that IoT security deserves serious consideration and is fundamental to evolving a comprehensive zero trust architecture. Our security team is keenly aware of the potential risks IoT devices can pose and how they could impact business operations, the safety and security of our employees, and even the economy of our region.

Security Service Edge to the rescue
Just as we consolidated our Budapest operations in one physical location at our new headquarters, we are simultaneously consolidating and standardizing onto a single security service edge (SSE) platform with Zscaler. We feel it’s important for IT and security teams to use an SSE platform to help reduce complexity, consolidate management, and improve the user experience. We’ve also found that working with one SSE vendor allows us to develop a deeper, more collaborative relationship and to save a great deal of time overall.

During the planning stages, we always had IoT security in mind for our new smart building. Now that it is in the final stages of construction, we are ensuring that internet access and traffic generated by IoT devices in the facility are being checked by the Zscaler Trust Exchange platform. The single most important benefit of running all IoT traffic through Zscaler is to make IoT devices invisible and reduce the attack surface. This means that IoT devices will be protected with the same high level of security as any user.

As our organization continues to expand and grow, SSE will continue to play an important role in the cloud security architecture of MOL Group’s office of the future.

Read the case study to learn why MOL Group chose Zscaler as their partner for SSE.


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