Cyber security & maritime networks

The older the ship’s network, the greater the risk.

Cyber Security & the Challenge to Maritime Networks

By Adrian Hartman & Paul Remick

“Look at me: I am the Captain now.”
In the film “Captain Phillips,” a boarding Somali pirate’s statement represents a maritime operator’s worst fear: losing control of his vessel, cargo and crew.

This same loss of control can result from cyber criminals and hackers. In the last year, there have been multiple prominent cyber attacks causing serious economic harm to companies and their partners with Sony Pictures being just the latest high profile victim.

The maritime industry is particularly susceptible to cyber attack. Ships transfer millions of dollars of cargo and often utilize antiquated communications and network hardware. The frequent rotation of ships’ crews also magnifies the risk of an insider providing malicious access to the network for financial gain. In situations where ships can connect their network from sea, cyber criminals can gain access remotely without an insider on board. Once cyber criminals have access to systems controlling navigation, propulsion, fire suppression, fresh water or electric—it can be just like the situation encountered in Captain Phillips.

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