In an effort to improve cyber-threat information sharing and analysis, Johnson Controls, a global provider of energy efficiency, integrated solutions and building controls, announced a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. 

The agreement will help secure the nation’s critical infrastructure from those with malicious intent, Johnson Controls reported in a press release.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that buildings consume nearly half of all energy produced in the U.S. Proper use of building automation systems can greatly reduce energy consumption, lower operating costs and increase efficiency. But today’s smart buildings must be secure, as well. 

“Defending against cyber threats today and tomorrow requires the secure design, development and deployment of building automation systems and controls,” said Bill Jackson, president of Johnson Controls’ global products, building technologies and solutions. “Our relationship with DHS enables our cybersecurity experts to collaborate with their counterparts in the federal government so that we can better protect our customers and critical systems around the world.” 

Through its agreement with DHS, Johnson Controls will participate in the Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program (CISCP), taking part in multi-directional cybersecurity information sharing and analytic collaboration between government and the private sector. 

Ryan P. Nolan, public relations program manager, Johnson Controls, building technologies & solutions, described the CISCP as a partnership program designed “to establish a systematic approach to cyber threat information sharing and collaboration, to develop trusted communities among public and private sector entities, and to enhance collaboration and build threat knowledge in order to improve the nation’s overall computer network defense posture.”

Jackson added, “We’re excited about this opportunity to work with DHS to help secure building automation systems and critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Johnson Controls has always been an innovator in this space, beginning with Warren Johnson’s invention of the electric room thermostat — 131 years ago — and the building controls industry that grew out of that early technology. Addressing the new challenge of cyber threats to embedded building control systems is a logical next step in that journey.”  

Jason Rosselot, CISSP, director global product security, and his team at Johnson Controls, are spearheading this effort with DHS, Nolan explained. “The partnership allows Johnson Controls cybersecurity analysts to share their expertise to assess and analyze cyber threats to embedded control systems, in particular those in buildings such as building automation, security, and life safety systems,” Nolan said. “Our nation benefits when cybersecurity analysts collaborate to understand cyber threats to these critical systems.”