Europe in the World

Reports and papers

How smart is the use of smart devices in the office?

12 Apr 2021 - 16:15
Source: Adlatus CR 700 in Brain Industries Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. © Jean Heybroeck/ Adlatus
The case of industrial cleaning robots in the Netherlands

This report was drawn up in collaboration with KPMG Advisory.

Firewalls, end-to-end encryption, private cloud, no smartphones during a meeting. This is a small selection of measures companies are taking to secure data traffic on their digital networks and to counter espionage. Many of these companies also implement at first sight harmless technologies that make life easier, from smart TVs and smart lighting to cleaning robots. However, these devices are full of sensors that collect data.

The dominant brands of smart devices are often non-European (in particular American and Asian), which limits European control over how data is collected and used. The data is often stored and/or processed in a cloud environment outside the EU. We need to learn how we can manage and limit the associated security risks.

In this report, we use the case of industrial cleaning robots to show what the possible security risks are of using smart devices, and what companies can do to safeguard their security. In doing so, we will dive deeper into the possible security risks of free-market forces in high-tech sectors with strong competition from non-European companies.

The key recommendations from this report are:

  1. It is in the interest of Dutch security to support European high-tech companies with the biggest potential so that they can continue to compete with non-European brands. In this way, customers will still have a European option and hence more control over their data.
  2. Labelling and “benchmarking” the level of digital security of smart devices enables consumers and organisations to identify devices with higher cybersecurity prerequisites and make informed decisions.
  3. Companies are advised to develop policies for the use of smart devices within their organisation, especially when it comes to locations where valuable and vulnerable data is used.

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