Cyber threats confronting the digital built environment: Common data environment vulnerabilities and block chain deterrence

Erika A. Parn, David Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Smart cities provide fully integrated and networked connectivity between virtual/digital assets and physical building/infrastructure assets to form digital economies. However, industrial espionage, cyber-crime and deplorable politically driven cyber-interventions threaten to disrupt and/or physically damage the critical infrastructure that supports national wealth generation and preserves the health, safety and welfare of the populous. The purpose of this paper is to present a comprehensive review of cyber-threats confronting critical infrastructure asset management reliant upon a common data environment to augment building information modelling (BIM) implementation. Design/methodology/approach: An interpretivist, methodological approach to reviewing pertinent literature (that contained elements of positivism) was adopted. The ensuing mixed methods analysis: reports upon case studies of cyber-physical attacks; reveals distinct categories of hackers; identifies and reports upon the various motivations for the perpetrators/actors; and explains the varied reconnaissance techniques adopted. Findings: The paper concludes with direction for future research work and a recommendation to utilize innovative block chain technology as a potential risk mitigation measure for digital built environment vulnerabilities. Originality/value: While cyber security and digitization of the built environment have been widely covered within the extant literature in isolation, scant research has hitherto conducted an holistic review of the perceived threats, deterrence applications and future developments in a digitized Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations (AECO) sector. This review presents concise and lucid reference guidance that will intellectually challenge, and better inform, both practitioners and researchers in the AECO field of enquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-266
Number of pages22
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Building information modelling
  • Information and communication technology (ICT) applications
  • Integrated practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • General Business,Management and Accounting


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