Better safe than sorry – Cybersecurity in mining

Image from Metso.

Digitalized mining operations have a variety of advantages compared to conventional ones. They make mines smarter and safer, operations are optimized, and miners can get more productivity out of their assets. At the same time, miners have put forth serious effort to minimize risks that might affect their cybersecurity – and they should, as no one is untouchable.

The risks that miners face go beyond the “basic” Information Technology (IT) cybersecurity risks that all companies face. Miners are also exposed to attacks to their Operational Technology (OT) systems. Very roughly defined, IT is about data and software and OT is about automation and hardware, but the line between them is blurring.

In the past, when mine sites were closed to the outside world and data was not shared outside the mine, the risk was more contained. Now, however, there is a true need to share data both internally within the mining corporation and externally with partners, so the potential for risk exposure of OT systems increases. Managing the risks requires extra hardening on the control networks and the outbound/inbound connections.

With cybersecurity, everyone needs to plan for the eventuality of an attack. There are really only two types of companies: those who have been attacked and those who don’t know they have been attacked. The difference is the level of situational awareness of what is really going on and preparedness. By being prepared and knowing how to respond to attacks, the impact can be minimized…

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