A member of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency looks toward the CMA CGM Virginia, a container shipping vessel, May 16, 2009, off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., before boarding the ship to search for possible stowaways. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Cindy Beckert)

Shipping Cyber Threat More in Realm of Ransomware Than Navigation Takeover

The shipping industry’s main cyber attack risk currently is a commercial one, according to one leading insurer. Incidents of hacking shipping equipment are currently rare but are likely to rise over time, reports Seatrade Maritime News.

North P&I says that ransomware infiltrating administrative systems is the biggest current issue. And it points to a cyber attack on shipping line Maersk in 2017 as an example of incidents that are forcing those in shipping to analyze weaknesses in their processes, and in IT security.

“The real risk of cyber-threat at the moment is more commercial, manipulating cargo documents, and ransomware is the obvious threat. I think the threat of taking over vessels, although it does exist, is a lot further down the line and more extreme,” Alvin Forster, deputy director (loss prevention) for North P&I, told Seatrade.

The danger of systems takeover will grow as ships become ever-more connected to the internet via navigation and control systems, the insurer suggests, but currently such incidents are at a low level.

The Maersk attack saw the Petya virus infiltrate Maersk’s IT system, affecting its ability to manage operations. The company confirmed that no customer data was compromised in the attack, and has promised to share its learnings from investigating the incident.

Read more at Seatrade Maritime News

Chris Bown is a regular contributor to Homeland Security Today covering the latest think tank, journal, and news related to terrorism and security. He originally trained as a journalist on real estate and architecture news publications, and for many years edited the publications of international real estate event MIPIM. He is a regular contributor to London financial daily newspaper City AM, and curates daily updates at investment newsletter Hotel Analyst.

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