News / Economy

    Miners Face Rising Threat of Cyber-Attacks

    Mining operations can be seen at the Rio Tinto alumina refinery and bauxite mine in Gove, also known as Nhulunbuy, located 650 kilometers (404 miles) east of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory, July 21, 2013.
    Mining operations can be seen at the Rio Tinto alumina refinery and bauxite mine in Gove, also known as Nhulunbuy, located 650 kilometers (404 miles) east of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory, July 21, 2013.
    Reuters
    Miners are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber-hacking as they slash costs, automate equipment, rely more on the internet, and run mines from hundreds of kilometers away, a survey of nearly 40 mining companies has found.

    Threats can come from criminals looking to make money from supply disruptions, rivals hunting business secrets, governments and state-owned firms looking for a leg up in contract talks, and political and anti-mining activists, according to a report by Ernst & Young.

    More than 40 percent of metals and mining companies in the survey experienced a rise in external threats over the past 12 months.

    “Criminals are attracted to the sector because of the massive cash flows,” the advisory firm said in its report.

    The most vulnerable miners are small to mid-sized companies who produce strategic metals such as rare earths, tin and tungsten, rather than the mega miners, who have tightened security in their systems over the past few years.

    “The big miners have more sophistication in their risk management systems and probably have already experienced some degree of hacking activity in the last couple of years. For them it's a real life battle,” said Mike Elliott, Ernst & Young's global metals and mining leader.

    Back in 2009, former BHP Billiton Chief Executive Marius Kloppers told a U.S. diplomat in Melbourne he was worried about espionage by China and competitors like Rio Tinto , according to a report on a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

    Elliott said one fairly large miner was hit by a cyber-attack in the past two years which it detected only by accident when it was examining the reliability of a piece of equipment in its supply chain.

    The company discovered coding in the software for the equipment had been changed with an unauthorized amendment.

    “It was designed to cause a problem that never eventuated because they picked it up,” Elliott told Reuters. He declined to name the company that was targeted or where it was located.

    “There are a lot more victims of this sort of activity than would be reported, because people don't like to talk about when these things are detected,” he added.

    Iron ore miners are so aware of threats that one large producer requires staff to remove the batteries from their mobile phones at their most sensitive meetings, a person familiar with the company told Reuters.

    Smaller miners are more vulnerable to cyber-hacking because they don't see themselves as targets, and as they look to cut costs they are increasingly using web-connected technology and automated systems which could be infiltrated.

    Web sites are easy targets for political and social activists, or hacktivists. A hacker defaced and blocked access to rare earths producer Lynas Corp's web site last year as part of a campaign against the opening of a processing plant in Malaysia.

    Lynas has since moved its web site in-house.

    “It was a wake-up call for us to bring the web site under the control of IT and have them secure it in the same way as our internal networks,” said Gillian Kidson, Lynas Corp's general manager of IT.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8998
    JPY
    USD
    103.32
    GBP
    USD
    0.7594
    CAD
    USD
    1.3176
    INR
    USD
    66.954

    Rates may not be current.