Courtesy of Rob Labbé

During a six-year stint as a cybersecurity expert at Microsoft, Rob Labbé noticed a trend – mining companies were particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, and hackers were taking advantage. Today, he is working hard to change that.

Cybersecurity in the industry, he recalled, “was at a really immature state” when he took over as Teck Resources’ director of information security in 2014.

While at Teck, he has led an effort to form an industry-wide coalition that aims to increase security through cooperation and coordination.

The non-profit organization – known as the Mining and Metals Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (ISAC) – will pool resources, enable confidential sharing and collaboration, and work with other security organizations to prevent damaging cyberattacks. 

Labbé described ISAC as a sort of “combined defence.” It allows companies to share threat and vulnerability information as well as develop and manage contingency plans.

Membership will be $25,000 a year, and the ISAC will develop security measures that will be shared with its members. For example, the group will work on “security, maturity and resiliency frameworks,” which set out ways to avoid cyberattacks. This effort alone can cost a company around $250,000. “We could all spend a quarter million dollars on the effort, but we would all get fundamentally the same document.”

Watch: Cybersecurity expert Stephen Jou explains how companies can protect themselves from data security breaches

Mining, explained Labbé, is late to the party when it comes to developing an ISAC. Other industries have “long realized” that “the only way we can compete against cybercriminals and take care of cybersecurity is to work together as an industry.”

Some 30 industries now boast ISACs, the first of which was developed by the financial services industry. 

But Labbé said miners are waking up to the threat of cyberattacks. Currently, six companies, including Teck, are testing the data sharing and monitoring technology. As of July 10, the coalition will be open to other mining companies that wish to join. Labbé said he hopes they will.

“Without sharing we all lose,” he said. “I would love to see 80 to 90 per cent of the industry participating in the next three to five years.”

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Dominique Girard, Vice-president of Nunavut operations at Agnico Eagle