The results of a new study conducted by Inmarsat suggest that mining firms should improve their cybersecurity measures in order to gain maximum value from Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

The research noted that mining companies are finding it difficult to keep up with the new security challenges presented by the deployment of IoT systems.

Approximately 100 mining companies worldwide took part in Inmarsat’s ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise’ report.

The respondents noted that countering the security challenges created by IoT is proving to be a problematic task.

“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.”

Roughly 94% of the participants admitted that there is room for improvement in terms of their approach to cybersecurity, while 67% held the view that their data security measures would need a complete overhaul to be compatible for IoT deployments.

In addition, there was noted to be a visible dearth of skills within the mining sector, with 64% of respondents confessing that they needed to bolster cybersecurity skills in order to safely deploy IoT solutions.

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Inmarsat Enterprise mining director Joe Carr said: “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.”

Inmarsat’s research also found that despite the knowledge of growing security threats associated with IoT, relatively few companies are prioritising the acquisition of new security systems.

The report noted that only 44% of the respondents stated that they are investing in new security technologies.

Furthermore, only 17% reported that they were recruiting new staff in order to address the shortfall in terms of security skills.

As a result of the findings, Carr highlighted the need for mining businesses to step up their efforts regarding IoT and digital security.