How Maritime Shipping is Confronting Cybersecurity Threats By Andrew Reilly
May 10, 2021 MARITIME CYBER SECURITY
Aong focused on mitigating physical risks such as piracy, the maritime shipping industry is currently grappling with a new challenge: how to respond to a dramatic spike in cybersecurity threats.
From February to June 2020, cybersecurity consulting firm Naval Dome documented a 400% growth in attempted hacks against maritime targets. Driven by increased numbers of remote access paths onboard vessels and the convergence of new information technology (IT) targets into traditionally operational technology (OT) environments — as well as the perceived value in targeting an industry that carries nearly 90% of the world’s trade — these attacks represent a serious new threat to the backbone of global commerce.
“This convergence is increasingly more pervasive because of the nature of digitalization trends, like using onboard sensors and tracking data off operational systems for predictive maintenance purposes, that open more attack surfaces on the IT side that can enter into the OT environments,” said Don Ward, senior vice president of Global Services at Mission Secure, a global provider of OT cyber-protection solutions. “We frequently see that clients think they have certain portions of their system on islands – inevitably, in every assessment we find a backdoor into these environments.”
It’s a balancing act that all digitally maturing industries face: deriving efficiency gains from integrating today’s latest technology while limiting the potential vulnerabilities from doing so. The maritime sector is still catching up to its aerospace and automotive counterparts in implementing modern cybersecurity best practices, but malicious actors will not be waiting idly for it to arrive there.