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Mining and IoT: Recognising cyber security to extract true value

Following on from today’s report from EY, one that revealed mining and metals companies to be struggling to keep up with the required cyber security measures in the ever-growing digital landscape, further research has examined what these same companies can do to extract profit from certain technologies.

IoT is a word on the lips of a large portion of the mining industry. But what makes it more than a simple buzzword? As more companies turn towards the implementation of IoT, what do they truly know of this technology? And more importantly, do they know how to gain true value from it?

Inmarsat, owner and operator of a global satellite network, has conducted a recent study which reveals that while mining businesses stand to gain a significant advantage over their competitors by implementing IoT, without the right cybersecurity measures in places these initiatives may come crashing down before gains can be made.

The company called upon market research specialist Vanson Bourne to interview respondents from 100 large scale mining companies across the world and the results paint a pretty unforgiving picture.

94% of respondents admitted that their cyber security approach could be improved, while 67% revealed that their data security measures would need a complete overhaul in order to be compatible with IoT developments.

It doesn’t stop there either, the one key area of slight concern was in the availability of skills as 64% stated that they required additional cybersecurity skills in order to safely, and successfully, deploy IoT.

Commenting on the findings, Joe Carr, Director of Mining at Inmarsat Enterprise, said: “Mining companies stand to make considerable gains by exploiting digital technologies such as IoT, but as the industry becomes more digitally-oriented, the risks for these businesses increase. A more connected mine is a more vulnerable one and as IoT connects evermore parts of a mining company’s operations to the internet, they open up new avenues for attack, whether that’s from environmentalist groups seeking to disrupt operations or from state-sponsored actors conducting cyber espionage.

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“At the same time, the increased dependency the sector has on data for its operations and profitability means that the risks of not having adequate security in place grow exponentially. Whereas a decade ago a data breach or intrusion would have been an inconvenience, today a mine might grind to a complete halt, so it is worrying that so many mining companies are struggling in this area.”

Carr concluded: “For mining businesses to thrive in this climate, IoT and digital security needs to be at the top of the agenda and it is essential that boards raise their understanding of the risks they face. This involves ensuring that the fundamental network infrastructure underpinning device connectivity aligns with the highest security and reliability standards, and that the end points are configured correctly.”

Read Mining Global Magazine’s exclusive interview with Joe Carr in the February issue of Mining Global, as he discusses how technology will shape the mining industry of tomorrow.

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