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Maritime Cyber Security: Are you cyber prepared?

30 October 2020

Shipping, just like the rest of the world, is facing unprecedented times and seafarers are facing massive uncertainty, with crew change restrictions and whole new levels of stress and fatigue. However, it is vital not to lessen focus on safety and security; during COVID-19 we have seen an even bigger rise and dependency on digital systems on board ships, from accessing vital training, certification, and carrying out vessel inspections, to crew requiring more WiFi access to talk to their loved ones or get wellbeing support.

Cyber attackers are opportunists, and what better opportunity than a pandemic, when the world's attention is elsewhere. In the first week of October, the IMO announced it had experienced a sophisticated cyber attack. In the same week, CMA CGM announced it had undergone a suspected data breach caused by a malware attack. In June, data that was hacked from Toll Goup's corporate server files the previous month was published on the dark web.

These are not isolated cases. In August, the FBI said that the number of complaints about cyber attacks to its Cyber Division was up to as many as 4,000 a day - 400% more than pre-coronavirus levels. Meanwhile, Israeli defence and security company Naval Dome also reported a 400% spike in attempted cyber attacks targeted at the shipping industry since February 2020, taking advantage of vulnerabilities left by the pandemic when owners were distracted resolving travel restrictions and the financial impact of COVID-19.

This is not the only reason to up our cyber security game. Shipping must also prepare to incorporate cyber security into their SMSs in 2021, as per IMO regulations.

Addressing cyber risk is no longer just a sensible and smart thing to do; it is essential.

With homeworking and fatigued crew on board, cyber risk is only set to increase while the pandemic rages on. Companies must focus continually on improving their cyber resilience and prepare to counter and recover quickly from an inevitable attack.

For 2020, Safety at Sea and BIMCO have produced a free cyber security white paper, that combines an analysis of five years of survey findings and matches them to cyber behaviour and investment trends observable in the wider maritime industry.

Readers will gain a comprehensive overview of the key cyber security issues facing maritime as well as practical advice from industry experts on the best approaches to assess cyber risk, prepare for attacks and create business recovery and continuity plans.

Download the white paper here.

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