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Cyber hacking on the rise for mining executives

As mining companies move forward into the next era of mining operations, the top concern facing the industry is cyber security.According to ABC News, Au...

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|Jul 1|magazine9 min read

As mining companies move forward into the next era of mining operations, the top concern facing the industry is cyber security.

According to ABC News, Australian mining executives say they are becoming increasingly aware of hackers trying to gain access to their sensitive information and are now taking extra precautions when doing business with countries like China.

"Cyber security is impacting businesses right now," said Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche. "If you're an Australian resource company CEO going into China, for example, you simply do not take any of your devices into China.”

However, Chinese hackers are not the only ones causing disruptions for the mining industry.

"We've had examples from people who have hacked in and held to ransom companies, [saying] if they want their database back, they've got to pay X amount of dollars and so forth," said Simon Bennison, CEO of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies.

• Related content: FEATURE: How Susceptible is the Mining Industry to IT Security Risks?

"But I think it goes a step further and I think some companies are seriously concerned about risks by particular activist groups which have shown limited boundaries in what sort of degree they'll go to impacting on a company's future."

Serious threat

A Global Information Security Survey in 2013 and found that roughly 41 percent of the mining and metals respondents experienced an increase in external threats over 12 months, including 28 percent that experienced an increase in internal vulnerabilities over the same period.

Earlier this year, a report by Ernst & Young said cyber hacking and breach of information systems security is emerging as one of the top risks to the mining and metals sector.

Cyber security represents a significant challenge for mining companies as information technology (IT) underpins almost every aspect of their operations. The rise of automation has placed the mining industry at the mercy of hackers and companies are being urged to invest generously in IT defenses as these attacks become increasingly sophisticated.

"Existing cyber defenses are pretty weak against even mid-level types of attack from states and organized crime," said Gregory Austin, a Professor with the Center for Cyber Security at University of New South Wales.

"The director of national intelligence in the United States has warned that attacks will get more severe and their impacts, that attacks will change from the simple theft of data to the manipulation of data.”

A Federal Government report on cyber security policy is expected next month, according to the ABC News report, and should reveal new initiatives for companies to protect their data.

"Government has a very big role to play, but ultimately the bigger part lies with private corporations and with private citizens."

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