At the end of September, CMA CGM experienced a hacker attack. The IT systems of the world's fourth-largest liner operator were disabled by ransomware for roughly 2 weeks. The cyber criminals were trying to extort ransom from the company. Examples like this show that adhering to cyber security guidelines, performing regular security checks and raising awareness among crews should be top priorities for ship operators: "We can only shut the external gateways used by cyber criminals if all crew members take responsibility and exercise data discipline," says Dietmar Hilke, cyber security expert at the network specialist Cisco Systems.
The coronavirus pandemic seems to have opened these gateways even wider. A study conducted by the British Ports Association and Astaara, a company specialising in cyber risk management, indicates that as the frequency of remote surveys increased, cyber attacks at sea have quadrupled since last February. The industry has taken note of the situation, as a survey by the insurance company Allianz shows: More than 2500 risk managers believe that cyber crime is the second greatest risk for shipping today, second only to natural disasters.
Cyber risk management is now an obligation
The International Maritime Organization IMO has taken the initiative and passed a resolution requiring shipping companies to take appropriate technical and organisational measures for the protection of their IT systems and business processes. Implementation of these measures will be verified as part of the annual "Documentation of Compliance” inspections from January 2021.
A step the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) has expressly welcomed. In the DCSA the world's leading liner operators cooperate on standardisation and network integration initiatives for container shipping. The organisation’s agenda includes cyber security. "To help shipping companies meet the IMO deadline, DSCA has launched a cyber security initiative to establish standards and develop best practices for the implementation of the rules imposed to protect critical infrastructure and enhance cyber risk management," said Thomas Bagge, head of DSCA.
To learn about cyber security options, ship operators and other maritime companies should participate in SMM DIGITAL from 2 until 5 February 2021, themed "Driving the Maritime Transition". The digital transformation will be a focal topic at the Maritime Future Summit. For more information on cyber security, listen to the lecture of Dr. Robert Koch who will discuss the growing digital danger for naval ships during the MS&D conference.