Curbing cyber-attacks: The evolving role of the ‘Design Engineer’

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  Posted by: electime      2nd September 2019

By Andy Wakeley, Customer Channel Marketing Manager at Schneider Electric

Someone, somewhere, must be throwing one hell of a party. In the last few years the number of cyber-attacks has exploded – this year 55% of firms have reported attacks, up from 40 per cent last year.

No company or individual can afford to ignore cybersecurity, as the NHS, Yahoo! and Facebook have proven. While the number and scale of the attacks is widely reported, the long-term implications remain unknow. The immediate financial costs can be huge, but damage to brand and the undermining of trust can plague companies for years.

The rise of the IoT and connected devices has increased the attack surface for cybercriminals attempting to infiltrate corporate networks. Every network touchpoint represents an opportunity for a large-scale security breach.

For most electrical engineers, the idea of learning about cybersecurity is largely foreign – better left to those with direct experience. However, the increasing threat means that job requirements are shifting – no longer can cyber security only be considered by those sitting behind keyboards.

Design Engineers need to equip themselves with the knowledge and technical skills to advise clients on the cybersecurity issues and potential solutions associated with new and existing installations. By doing so they can open new revenue systems and ensure their skills remain relevant.


As businesses and end users become aware of the cybersecurity risks associated with connected devices and different electrical solutions, designers can’t fall behind. Having the knowledge to consult on projects it no longer nice-to-have, but necessary.

Design engineers who educate themselves on the importance of cybersecurity open up new opportunities for themselves. Not only can they advise on the construction of an electrical circuit or infrastructure, they can advise customers on the relative risk of solutions and provide an improved, more secure service.

In a highly competitive market, design engineers must be ahead of the curve in new trends and pre-empt changes to consumer and customer priorities in order to remain competitive. This adds value at every stage of the project and represents a point of difference to win and retain business.


Beyond educating themselves in cybersecurity risks, design engineers must look for tools to help them select solutions which have been designed with cybersecurity in mind. In the fast-moving world, it’s unrealistic that design engineers are going to be able to keep up with every new attack vector and development in the cyber security world. They need a range of tools that can aid them, and ideally, help educate them on best practise.

Specification tools, a platform for M&E Consultants to create and store their specifications when building specifications for projects, help give customers peace of mind when it comes to cybersecurity considerations. They can provide up to date advice and help engineers choose the right solution for each project, helping to ingrain security into every part of the project.

All industry solutions and products included in the tool have been designed, tested and built with cybersecurity in mind. This is an easy way for design engineers to ensure that the products, software or solution they are specifying meets current standards and safety requirements around cybersecurity.

Cyberattacks are here to stay. Indeed, with the explosion of connected devices, they are only going to become more routine. Today’s design engineers are at a tipping point – either they find a way to gain cybersecurity skills, or they risk being left behind.