Digital technology hasn’t just transformed maritime operations, it’s created an entirely new, and continually shifting, risk reality. NAVTOR’s Tyr Steffensen explains why cyber security must be a key consideration for an industry keen to chart a safe, smart and sustainable way forward.
“Cyber security isn’t an add-on consideration, or an optional extra, for today’s shipping businesses,” states Tyr Steffensen. “In an era of ever-increasing connectivity, with a constantly evolving threat landscape, it should be absolutely integral to everyday operations.”
He continues: “Digital technology offers a huge spectrum of benefits, but it also opens the door to a new breed of risk. That is something everybody needs to understand… and keep absolutely front of mind.”
Steffensen doesn’t just think this, he knows it.
After a lengthy career as an analyst and advisor in law enforcement, most recently at Norway’s National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos), he has first-hand experience of how ‘bad actors’ can exploit digital opportunity to wreak havoc upon unsuspecting victims. It’s expertise he’s now transferring to a shipping context with his new role as Cyber Security Officer at leading maritime technology company NAVTOR.
“I see cybercrime and cyber security as two sides of the same coin,” he says.
“Having an understanding of the criminal perspective allows teams to build the best possible defences, identifying potential weaknesses, or evolving areas of threat, and working proactively to address them. That’s essential within an industry that is becoming increasingly digitized, utilising technology to enhance efficiency, safety, control and sustainability. We need to protect this progress, ensuring these new strengths don’t become our Achille’s Heel.”
Steffersen’s recruitment is a natural step forward for NAVTOR, which has built its position as the world’s leading supplier of ENC-based services, e-Navigation innovations, and performance monitoring and management solutions on a platform of trusted partnership. The company was an early mover in achieving ‘cyber secure’ certification from DNV, receiving IEC 61162-460 Gateway approval for NavBox, which automates the distribution and updates of digital charts, publications and other navigational data, back in 2019. The solution has now become the lynchpin in a fully integrated, digital ecosystem that connects ships, fleets, shoreside operations and entire businesses, enabling powerful smart shipping benefits.
“If you’re going to build safely, you must have solid foundations,” Steffensen comments, “and that’s what NavBox provides. It delivers true cyber security from the ground up, helping our customers unlock competitive advantage safe in the knowledge that their data is under virtual ‘lock and key’.”
But trust, he says, has to be earned.
“I think that’s one of the chief reasons NAVTOR created this dedicated role,” Steffensen opines. “As a company we realise there is absolutely zero room for complacency and we, indeed the whole industry, have to continually work for improvements.”
He elaborates: “If you build a wall to keep criminals out you can’t just leave it – they’ll eventually scale it, find a way around it, or dig under it. And that’s especially true as the thing they’re trying to steal, in this case data, becomes more valuable.”
“So, we see this as an ongoing job and are committed to tirelessly working to protect our systems, data, and customer information, building strong digital trust with all our industry stakeholders.”
Steffensen’s arrival comes at an opportune moment, with October 2023 deemed as Cybersecurity Awareness Month – shining a worldwide spotlight on this key issue. Something that, he says, is particularly relevant for the maritime industry.
“I don’t think cybersecurity gets the attention it deserves within the maritime arena,” he says. “Awareness is certainly growing, but I’d argue the level of threat is growing far quicker. We need to address this.”
From his personal perspective that’s exactly what he’ll be focusing on in the coming months, working to reduce risk, increase compliance, and enable business goals – both for NAVTOR and its thousands of global customers:
“As a company we’ve always been dedicated to finding optimal routes ahead, with enhanced efficiency, safety, profitability, sustainability and, of course, security for the vessels and businesses we serve.”
“I’ll be looking forward to ensuring NAVTOR, and its customers, continue to lead the way, and to do so securely, far into the future.”
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