While offering opportunities to boost productivity and efficiency, the move by the mining industry towards embracing technology is helping them gain competitive advantage.

But, this has also opened up the door to a host of new risks often not recognised by the industry as potential threats, and more specifically cyber risks associated with the high-level of interconnectedness that the digital era brings with it.

CHANTELLE KOTZE spoke to cyberforensics executive PAT PATHER of cyber and forensics security solutions provider Cerebus Cyber Forensics on how to protect against cyber risks.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 7, 2019
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According to Pather, the era of Industry 4.0 means that organisations are hyper-connected with smart devices connected through smart networks.

This presents a very lucrative target for cyber-criminals who find entry points into these networks and devices – so much so that there has been a sharp increase in the number of high profile cyber-attacks, the cost of which is expected to reach US$2 trillion globally this year.

To put this into context, a barrage of cyber-attacks and data breaches have hit almost every industry embracing technology, targeting businesses both large and small, with many of these attacks having come from IoT devices.

“Along with opportunities, every new technology brings risks and it is imperative for organisations to fully understand the implications before adopting these technologies,” says Pather.

He points out that the mining industry needs to change its mindset from the classic perimeter-based approach to security in which it has been so successful and look at security as a whole-of-business risk and not just an information technology (IT) risk but also an operational technology (OT) risk. This is critical to protecting hyper-connected systems, networks and data from damage and unauthorised access.

Real time data protection and monitoring

With the incorporation of the IoT as well as various geoscientific data sources, the digital potential in mining is significant and the ability to analyse and derive intelligence from vast amounts of data generated across the various aspects of a mining operation is in itself a digital revolution in the resources sector.

However, given the amount of digital data generated, not only is effective data management essential, but the protection and monitoring of this data is even more critical – especially from a cyber-security perspective, says Pather.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and South Africa’s data protection law – Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) places huge onus to: analyse your data risk, protect your critical data, protect data on all frontiers and to manage data in accordance with the data subject’s consent.

Cerebus has developed a trademarked and patent-pending solution that provides real-time data protection and monitoring.

The solution, which has been dubbed ‘Leonardo’, was launched to the local market by Cerebus at SECUREX South Africa in May.

The data tracking and monitoring solution uncovers an organisation’s data vulnerability and allows organisations to monitor its critical risks.

According to Pather, the critical risks that are relevant for any and all organisations is how employees manage and handle sensitive information – their behaviour and handling of the data that they have access to and the controls over that data.

The Leonardo solution provides a single-view platform of an organisation’s data protection, correlating the employee, their behaviour, as well as the virtual and physical environment in real-time.

Leonardo makes use of a methodology that risk-rates every employee in the organisation using advanced analytics. This methodology analyses feeds in real time from multiple sources and provides a risk rating based on the user’s behaviour, and provides the capability to immediately be alerted should the behaviour transgress company policies, regulation and places the organisation at risk.

Leonardo therefore provides the ability to take the appropriate remedial action to protect organisations in real time and reduce its risk exposure.

Pather believes that real time data protection gives organisations a fighting chance against the sophistication of today’s and tomorrow’s cyber-criminal as it arms you with a holistic, integrated solution to uncover, analyse, and visualise data-related business risks and take action to proactively in real time to protect your business.

Besides Cerebus’ flagship Leonardo solution, the company also provides a real time workforce management solution – Guard Centre – which enables the tracking of a worker in real time. What sets Guard Centre apart from other real time asset tracking solutions is its ability to bring the virtual and physical world together on one platform.

By 2025, it is estimated that there will be approximately 75 billion connected devices around the world.

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