Seaport Cybersecurity

12 Jan 2015

Seaport Cybersecurity

Seaport Cyber Security improvements needed

Seaport Cyber security needs to be taken more seriously by vulnerable seaports, says Martin Rushmere “Deficient” and/or “delinquent” are the accusations that politicians and the public are levelling against ports, with an implication that they are guilty of both strategic shortcomings when it comes to protection from cyber attacks. But industry analysts reckon that the criticism is to a large extent unfair.

Publicity about banking and commercial attacks is a large part of the reason. Brian Lord, managing director of PGI Cyber, says: “Ports are a hidden element of infrastructure, not like electricity, and many people forget about them.” He says the IT industry is also to blame “for making cyber security impenetrable to clients. The result is that people making investment decisions shove responsibility for cyber security to the IT department.”

But Seaport Cyber Security incidents are expected - attacks are probably on the way. Peregrine Storrs-Fox, risk management director for TT Club, says: “The main media and public interest to date has been focused on banking and retail sectors, which have historically considered themselves to be most at risk and probably done more than other industries to protect themselves in the last 10-15 years. There is little reason to consider shipping, transport or the supply chain to be immune to attack; it is dependent on who is doing the attacking and to what end.”

Says Mark Gazit, chief executive of ThetaRay: “Communication channels for the maritime realms are expensive and often outdated. While some very targeted products do exist on the market, even if they are implemented by an organisation, updates and patching are not stringent and, much like it is in the industrial markets, usually way overdue. This leaves vessels and their ashore operators more vulnerable to attacks.”

All the consultants note that attacks can come from any of the four types of threats - criminals, hacktivists, amateurs and foreign state-sponsored groups. “However,” says Mr Lord, “ports are much more susceptible to state activism. These attacks can be subtle. All you have to do is stop a port from operating for a short time, not destroy any infrastructure, which will reverberate along the supply chain. Goods will quickly be unavailable and public psychology can get frightened through the fear factor, Because of interconnection of commerce, an attack on one country’s port will affect others.”

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