Shipping faces glaring cyber security risk, say experts

cyber securityThere is “significant potential” for cyber attacks on shipboard systems, experts have warned.

Speaking at a conference in Hamburg, a Master Mariner and Vice President of the US Maritime Resource Center (USMRC), Alexander Soukhanov said that his organisation’s initial research findings show “significant potential for cyber disruption, including malicious takeover of engineering controls, widespread exposure of critical data and systems, and corrupted electronic navigation charts.”

A fellow speaker and CEO of Templar Executives, Andrew Fitzmaurice said the maritime industry, with an increasing reliance on technology and diverse human elements, “must be prepared to rigorously protect its business, people, vessels and reputation from a determined and rapidly evolving cyber threat”.

The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), which organised the conference, said it plans to bring out guidelines for shipping providing information and support to the shipping industry on how to avoid being vulnerable to cyber attacks.

“Maybe cyber security does not yet get sufficient attention by everyone in our industry – BIMCO is leading on the analysis of information and on producing guidance in this new area,” said BIMCO President Philippe Louis-Dreyfus. “It would be very unlikely to see a widespread cyber attack on shipping because ships across the world use so many different IT systems. Also, because all parties involved – such as shipowners, classifications societies, equipment-makers, and so on – will do their ‘homework’.

“Nevertheless, a cyber attack could have serious consequences – not just for your ship but for the reputation of your business. BIMCO is doing its job to increase industry awareness of the risk,” added Louis-Dreyfus.

By Pita Ochai

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