The Maritime Industry's Slow Boat To Cybersecurity

Despite the critical role the maritime transportation system plays in the economic health of the United States, and despite its fairly recent embrace of all things automated, cranes, vehicles, surveillance and even vessels, the sector has been slow to warm to the need to protect its digital systems and assets.

Post 9/11, security concerns about the nation’s borders, air space and infrastructure, including ports, moved front and center for a brief moment before other concerns, like the search for victims and perpetrators, the cleanup of the site and city, and legislative debate over homeland security needs versus long-held citizen rights, pushed infrastructure to a back burner. Critics kept up a steady drumbeat of worry over the safety of the nation’s ports. In the ensuing years, as port automation grew, physical security was upgraded and nailed down, helped in part by the government’s Port Security Grant program.

Talk about cyber security plodded along under the radar until the publication of two damning reports that took the nation’s ports, the US Coast Guard and Homeland Security Department to task for not aggressively or adequately addressing port cyber vulnerabilities.

Published in 2013, the Brookings Institution’s “The Critical Infrastructure Gap: US Port Facilities and Cyber Vulnerabilities,” is still considered valid today.  Published in 2014 by US General Accounting Office, “Maritime Critical Infrastructure Protection” directed its critique primarily at the US Coast Guard, which it said had failed to conduct a risk assessment that “fully addressed cyber threats, vulnerabilities and consequences.” 

The General Accounting Office also complained that both maritime security plans required by law, and regulation generally, also did not identify or address those same issues.  

“...Two if by Sea”
Perhaps spurred by those two reports, concern about lax port cyber security exploded in 2015, as the alarm was sounded loudly one after another, by a raft of industry organisations, government agencies here and abroad, academia, insurance companies, standards groups, think tanks and researchers. 

Almost simultaneous, together they released a wave of reports, seminars, white papers, primers, strategic plans, directives, resolutions, and even some legislative calls for assessment and information sharing - all addressing what they saw as a deeply worrisome lack of awareness, concern and action addressing the cyber security vulnerabilities of the nation’s ports.
Particularly alarmed were participants in a Maritime Cyber Security Symposium hosted in 2015 by the Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA), where speakers warned that “Maritime Cyber Attacks Occur in a World of the ‘Quick and the Dead,’ and that “Cyber Attacks on Ports and Ships Could be Catastrophic.”

Maritime executives too came in for their share of criticism for failing to take the lead in making cyber security a priority, while the sloppy cyber hygiene of employees on the front line got them labeled as the weakest link.

Wherever you looked, regardless of source, the message was loud and clear, do something about cyber security or face serious business consequences, even regulation. By 2016, the focus was squarely on education, especially crew, and raising awareness that cyber security was a real and pressing danger and that a cultural shift needed to take place, placing cyber security on the same plane as safety management.

Now two-thirds of the way through 2018, much of the preceding 2.5 years also has been spent publishing cyber security guides and checklists, strengthening regulatory directives, completing five-year facility security plans, conducting cyber risk assessments, deploying mitigation efforts, and building relationships in the far-flung, highly complex and competitive port community through participation, in part, in the USCG’s Area Maritime Security Committees (AMSC), and their cyber subcommittees, which can be found in most key port areas.  

ASMCs are comprised of representatives from the USCG, government agencies, law enforcement, shippers, port authorities, terminal operators, harbor vessels, even some clients, all working to identify and address security issues, as well as share information and create best practices, in their areas of operation.

Some of the changes we’ll see this year into next is a much greater emphasis on cyber risk management, resiliency and collaboration, as the cyber security community tries to defend against complacency (even the best security efforts will take a hit at some point) by getting maritime companies and ports to create contingency plans to enable them to recover as painlessly as possible from a successful attack, and to encourage them to work collaboratively on building best practices and sharing information about attempted and successful cyber-attacks.

MarineLink

You Might Also Read: 

COSCO Cyber Attack And The Importance Of Maritime Cybersecurity:

Cybersecurity At Sea:
 

« White House To Step Up Cyber Counter-Offensive
Insurance Experts Expect Higher Cyber Losses »

Quartz Conference
CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

Resecurity, Inc.

Resecurity, Inc.

Resecurity is a cybersecurity company that delivers a unified platform for endpoint protection, risk management, and cyber threat intelligence.

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO is the market leader in HPE Non-Stop Security, Risk Management and Compliance.

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout enables cyber security professionals to reduce cyber risk to their organization with proactive security solutions, providing immediate improvement in security posture and ROI.

IT Governance

IT Governance

IT Governance is a leading global provider of information security solutions. Download our free guide and find out how ISO 27001 can help protect your organisation's information.

LockLizard

LockLizard

Locklizard provides PDF DRM software that protects PDF documents from unauthorized access and misuse. Share and sell documents securely - prevent document leakage, sharing and piracy.

Cyberwarzone

Cyberwarzone

Cyberwarzone.com is a portal providing access to resources that will give you a better insight on the changing cyber landscape.

IoT Security Foundation (IoTSF)

IoT Security Foundation (IoTSF)

IoTSF is a collaborative, non-profit organisation with a mission to raise the quality and drive pervasive security in the Internet of Things.

Netskope

Netskope

The Netskope Security Cloud provides unrivaled visibility and real-time data and threat protection when accessing cloud services, websites, and private apps from anywhere, on any device.

Quantivate

Quantivate

Quantivate is a provider of web-based Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) software and service solutions.

RiskSense

RiskSense

RiskSense empowers enterprises and governments to reveal cyber risk, quickly orchestrate remediation, and monitor the results.

Tymlez Software & Consulting

Tymlez Software & Consulting

Tymlez Software and Consulting is a start-up specialised in blockchain technology for enterprises.

Advantech

Advantech

Advantech is a leader in providing trusted innovative embedded and automation products and solutions. Activities include IoT security.

AEI Cybersecurity

AEI Cybersecurity

AEI brings together companies, Research Centres, Universities, and other organizations interested in promoting new cybersecurity technologies.

Grimm

Grimm

We are an engineering and consulting firm that researches, develops, and advises on the art of the possible in cybersecurity.

Chainalysis

Chainalysis

Chainalysis provides blockchain analysis software to prevent, detect and investigate cryptocurrency money laundering, fraud and compliance violations.

Information System Authority (RIA) - Estonia

Information System Authority (RIA) - Estonia

RIA ensures the interoperability of the state’s information system, organises activities related to information security, and handles security incidents in Estonian computer networks.

NinjaJobs

NinjaJobs

NinjaJobs is a community-run job platform developed by information security professionals. We focusing strictly on cybersecurity positions.

SOFTwarfare

SOFTwarfare

SOFTwarfare deliver high-quality, reliable and secure enterprise application integrations through RESTful APIs for Cyber, Ops & Dev.

FirstWave Cloud Technology

FirstWave Cloud Technology

FirstWave Cloud Technology is a global cyber security company which has been delivering Cybersecurity-as-a-service solutions to the market since 2004.

Comcast Business

Comcast Business

Comcast Business keeps businesses ready for what’s next with powerful connectivity, advanced cybersecurity solutions, and the right people at your side.

NorthRow

NorthRow

NorthRow provides digital transformation compliance solutions to help businesses manage regulatory and financial crime risks.