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Friday, October 6th, 2017

Computer Hackers Discover Perfect Storm in Maritime Sector

Britain’s maritime industry needs to embrace the government’s code of practice relating to cyber-security for ships, according to one of the country’s leading experts.

So says Andy Cuff, who heads Computer Network Defence (CND), who has warned that superyachts are still far too vulnerable to hackers.

The cyber-security expert said that Britain’s maritime sector, which for centuries has led the world, faces being left behind if it doesn’t face up to new challenges.

He added that The Department for Transport’s Code of Practice relating to Cyber Security for Ships should be a basic standard.

The threats are real and recently there has been an increasing number of cyber security breaches at sea.

These include superyachts being remotely controlled by hackers, Maersk being devastated by ransomware and a sudden increase in US warships inexplicably colliding with other vessels in Asia, though the cyber link was vigorously denied.

Andy, whose company is headquartered in Bath, said: “The maritime sector has mostly turned a blind eye to cyber security.

“With ships being moving targets it is often perceived that they are too difficult to attack and provide little value to hackers.

“Recent events have shown this is not the case and cyber-security ought to be as routine as loading container ships correctly and providing physical security to ward off pirates.

“The exponential increase in connected technology, coupled with a laissez faire attitude to security, has resulted in many maritime vessels and fleets becoming easy victims.

“Recent publicity around poor security has resulted in many attackers pouncing on this weak and lucrative link, like a pack of wild dogs descending on a wounded zebra.

“The problems are largely rectifiable if the maritime industry embraces the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice relating to Cyber Security for Ships.

“It explains and defines the risks facing the industry and advices how they can be combated.

“The document is for organisations with one or more ships, insurers, ships’ senior officers and those responsible for the day-to-day operation of maritime information technology, operational technology and communications systems.

“An achievable and affordable starting position is the Government-backed Cyber Essentials scheme, which covers five of the most important controls helping to prevent 80% of the current cyber threats.

“Many of our clients are surprised at how achievable Cyber Essentials is; the IT literate usually self-certify and we provide differing levels of support.

“I would also strongly advise that the connected control systems on board vessels are segregated from other networks.

“We occasionally go on to provide clients with some deeply technical support such as detecting when their mobile phone calls are intercepted, bugsweeping and remote monitoring from our Security Operations Centre.

“To safeguard its future, the maritime industry must defend itself against cyber threats or it will be holed below the Plimsoll line.”

Computer Network Defence (CND) was set up in 2004 and covers all aspects of information security. It has grown organically and now employs 50 staff. CND specialise in providing consultancy services focusing around the development, implementation and manning of Secure Operation Centres (SOCs) and complex Intrusion Prevention System deployments. It has a high number of skilled consultants and only provides products that are of the highest quality. CND also has a long-standing recruitment part of the business, which provides staff for all areas of the cyber security; in both private and public sectors.

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