Maritime Cyber Developments – Is it an Evolution or Revolution?



The IoT (Internet of Things) has a rapid development that every day there is something new and the gadgets today will become obsolete in few months.  On the contrary, shipping industry did not get caught in this whirlpool and which is why the many players are coming out with modern gadgets and ship optimization softwares.

In one of his blogs, Dr Vis mentioned that a future mariner would not be a skilled engineer, rather an IT person with basic understanding of shipping.  Things prove to be true to his words.

MFAME has been interacting with more ship managers these days.  Many claim that the quality of the crew (both officers and engineers) has been witnessing a downtrend when compared with the older generation of engineers.

Would this technical advancement and technology development bridge the competency gap?

Well, we will leave it to you to think on it.

With the development of autonomous systems and complete electronic logs, auto-navigation systems, are the ships enough protected from the cyber risks?

The answer is “NOT YET!” says many industry experts from the cyber world.

Here are some for you to be reminded!

“Cybersecurity is a safety issue.  Every ship built has software that manages its engines; and that software is updated while the vessel is underway from the beach, and the Master doesn’t even know that the software is being updated.”

—  Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, U.S. Coast Guard

“Crew becoming smaller, ship becoming larger and a growing reliance on automation all significantly exacerbate the risk from hackers disruption key systems”

—  Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE’s 2015 Safety and Shipping Review

Here are a collection of Maritime & shipping related Cyber Incidents till date:

  1. A commercial ship on contract to the a country’s military was the target of an intrusion by suspected state sponsored military hackers.
  2. State sponsored military compromised “multiple systems” on a commercial ship on contract to Transcom.
  3. Major shipping company that has been a victim of a deliberate hacking attack, possibly by a rival.
  4. Hackers shut down a floating oil rig by tilting it.
  5. Somali pirates help choose their targets by viewing navigational data online, prompting ships to either turn off their navigational devices, or fake the data so it looks like they’re somewhere else;
  6. GPS “spoofer” built using $3,000 and a notebook is able to take total control of sophisticated navigation system aboard a 210-foot super-yacht in the Mediterranean Sea.
  7. Hacker shut down a rig through computer malware that took 19 days to make it seaworthy again.
  8. A major fuel supplier falls victim to an $18m scam.
  9. Marine shipping providers were target of spear-phishing campaigns.  These attacks use spoofed e-mails targeting a single company to gain secure access to confidential data.

Interestingly, with just $500, a system can be hacked and all data could be stealed.

MFAME is in communication with one of the industry’s leading cyber security firm and cover some interesting topics in the coming days.

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