Mining industry must strengthen cybersecurity measures to profit from IoT, finds Inmarsat


Mining businesses are struggling to meet the new security challenges presented by the Internet of Things (IoT) as they look for ways to exploit the technology. This is according to recent research from Inmarsat which states that while mining businesses stand to gain a significant advantage over their competitors by deploying IoT, without the right cybersecurity measures in place, these initiatives may come crashing down before gains can be made.

Market research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed respondents from 100 large mining companies across the globe for Inmarsat’s ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise’ report, and found that the sector is struggling to counter the security challenges created by IoT. Worryingly, 94 per cent admitted that their approach to cybersecurity could be improved and 67 per cent stated that their data security measures would need a complete overhaul to be fit for IoT deployments. The availability of skills emerged as a key area of concern in the research, with over six in ten (64 per cent) respondents stating that they required additional cybersecurity skills in order to safely deploy IoT.

However, despite recognising the enhanced security threats of IoT, just 44 per cent are investing in new security technologies, and only 17 per cent reported that they were taking steps to plug their security skills gaps by hiring new staff.

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.

“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.”

Satellite communications networks can offer a highly secure and reliable method to enable mining companies to safely transport data from their connected things anywhere on the planet. Optimised to deal with mission critical communications and with up to 99.9% uptime, Inmarsat’s L-band services are enabling IoT solutions in the mining sector globally, even in the most remote and hostile environments.


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