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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8869
    JPY
    USD
    112.70
    GBP
    USD
    0.6894
    CAD
    USD
    1.3922
    INR
    USD
    68.241

    Rates may not be current.