Inside the mind of a cyber security specialist

Inside the mind of a cyber security specialist

A cyber-security-oriented mindset supports Great Mines, giving their own people and customers peace of mind

Marco Carmago
Senior Project Lead - Cyber Security
North America
ABB Process Industries
Marco Carmago Senior Project Lead - Cyber Security North America ABB Process Industries
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To be a Great Mind in mining you must be curious about the industry and obsessed with learning more about the technologies that are improving it. As mining processes are transitioning to greener and more sustainable, new solutions are arising at a rapid rate. We must keep an open mind and pay attention to the features of one solution that sets it apart from another, and also know enough about the processes to be able to recommend the most suitable option for the unique set of requirements of each mine. In my role as project lead for cyber security for ABB’s North American customers, I know that listening closely to our customers is essential to bring all of this together.

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The cyber security field is fast-paced and complex – Great Minds will never be bored. We need more of them! Cyber security gives you the opportunity to work with state-of-art technologies and challenge yourself every day across multiple scenarios. One day, you might need to put yourself in the shoes of your customer as you devise a range of solutions to better protect infrastructure from multiple threats – within a specified budget. The next day, you need to turn your mindset upside down and think like a hacker trying to break into a system in order to provide the most useful practical advice. Curiosity and flexibility are characteristics that I expect from Great Minds. 

Cyber security professionals must observe a situation from multiple perspectives to come up with solutions that can protect infrastructure across a range of scenarios. I enjoy it because it develops my critical thinking and allows me to work with the very latest technologies. I’m also proud that by improving the cyber security for mining companies, we are helping to secure the production of copper, lithium and graphite. Not only are they essential for the batteries in our smartphones, they’re critical to manufacture the electric vehicles – both for passengers and mining haulage itself – that are bringing us closer to a more sustainable future.

Make no mistake: a cyber-related incident for any company is not an ‘if’, it’s a ‘when’. Sometimes it’s not even the result of a hacker but what I call a ‘silly’ everyday situation.

It certainly has its challenges, especially when there is a cyber attack in progress and you’re one of the responders. You need to be calm and try to de-escalate a situation. New threats are coming all the time, as are the new technologies to try to stop them. Staying up-to-date is vital – and sometimes a challenge. One thing is for sure: Young professionals will find plenty of fascinating and fast-paced opportunities for their Great Minds working in industrial cyber security.

A cyber-security-oriented mindset supports Great Mines, giving their own people and customers peace of mind that their personal and operational data will have their integrity preserved and be safely stored and quickly available when needed. Nothing is foolproof, but Great Mines prioritize investing in cutting-edge cyber security solutions to prevent the relentless attackers from getting into the infrastructure and possibly harming people, the environment or assets. 

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Recently, one of our US mining customers asked us to look at their Backup and Restore solution. It turned out it had been neglected for several years and luckily they had never needed it. Earlier this year, ABB went to the mine site and did a 800xA control systems upgrade, which included ensuring the Backup and Restore solution was working. Just a few weeks later, a power outage irreversibly corrupted the storage volumes of their servers, rendering them useless. But the upgraded Backup and Restore solution allowed ABB to go to the site and recover the server in just 1.5 days. Without the upgraded technology, it would have taken seven days or longer. Needless to say, the customer was very happy that their Backup and Restore solution was functional – it saved a lot of time and money.

Most people think cyber security is only about repelling sophisticated hacker attacks but that’s not true. A well-designed cybersecurity plan should also cover for such ‘silly’ situations, like a power outage taking out your servers, which has equal potential to disrupt production and put people and property in danger.

Great Minds make sure their Great Mines are covered for all those cyber scenarios.

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