Rapid advances in digital, mobile, analytics and other technologies have transformed the global mining industry. They’ve also greatly increased opportunities for cybersecurity breaches that can cause significant financial, operational and reputational damage. Yet there’s practically no way for companies to completely prevent breaches from happening. It’s a reality that requires mining companies to reconsider how they approach their cybersecurity strategy.
"Advanced understanding of roles, decision points, external engagement triggers and responsibilities, across, up and down you organization will enable your successful breach response."
Mining companies’ cyber breach vulnerabilities extend far beyond sensitive mining data and employees’ personal information. Today’s cyber threats can potentially access a vast range of systems, from water and power management to ventilation systems and autonomous vehicles. A breach of even one of these systems could quickly bring operations to a halt—or worse.
A robust security monitoring and breach response plan is essential to enable companies to quickly detect breaches and mitigate their impact. Clear roles and responsibilities are key, as is a strong internal and external communication plan. A growing number of companies have established service agreements with external breach response specialists that are on call for rapid, on-site assistance in dealing with security incidents. And regular “practice, test and learn” cycles make sure that the response plan keeps its edge and evolves with the business.
"Continuous security monitoring will help you determine when you have been breached and provide you the needed intelligence to drive your remediation and security improvement efforts."
But the most critical part in developing a cybersecurity strategy is deciding what to protect. Companies can’t prevent breaches, and they can’t secure every part of their business from attack. In a world of resource and financial constraints, companies in all industries should focus on protecting what’s absolutely essential to keep safe and rely on their response plans to deal with the rest.
To do that, mining executives must look at cybersecurity as a business issue, not an information technology issue. Cyber risks are business risks—and so the C-suite’s business risk assessments have to shape cybersecurity priorities.
What really matters to the organization? What are the worst-case scenarios? From a mine shutdown to a leak that compromises years of community engagement work, the answers will vary for each miner. But they provide valuable direction that can focus miners’ limited resources on critical vulnerabilities and help keep cybersecurity spending under control.
As the industry continues to suffer from low commodity prices and an unstable global market, mining companies are being forced to look for innovative ways to transform the way they do business and survive the extended economic downturn.