Many experts believe that the maritime sector still lags behind in cyber security prevention and is vulnerable to attacks.  Though other demands are taking precedent, C-suite shipping officials remain ignorant to many of the cyber concerns.  If ports are attacked, commerce stops.  When commerce stops, money stops and big problems ensue. 

At a Japanese lower house cabinet government meeting late last year, Japan’s minister responsible for cyber security announced that he did not use a personal computer and admitted he was “unfamiliar” with cyber security matters.  He said, “my main job [as Cabinet minister] is to read out written replies [prepared by bureaucrats] without making any mistakes.”  This is just one example of many who are in high level government and corporate levels who truly do not grasp the significance of cyber threats and vulnerabilities. 

A few weeks ago, at the annual Singapore Maritime Technology Conference, the chief executive officer of Israel-based security company Naval Dome, warned that the shipping industry should be on high alert. “Someone, somewhere is targeting the maritime sector,” he said.  “And shipping is totally unprepared.[1] 

It is easy to understand why shipping is now in the cross-hairs of the cyber-criminal or activist, yet the maritime industry still believes it is enough to have a Level 1 solution to protect against a Level 4 threat.”  A Level 4 attack is characterized as an extremely sophisticated attack and is intended to cause the greatest amount of disruption for either political, social, environmental, or financial gain.  This CEO then explained an incident in which the navigational equipment on board a fleet of 15 tankers was simultaneously hacked.  He urged a country such as Singapore, to monitor all ships entering its waters to verify whether they are cyber infected or clean of malicious malware.

Due to heavy pressure from environmental activists and those in government sympathetic to the climate change issue, decarbonization appears to be the number one shipping concern.  Environmental dangers now trump economic concerns.  As reported through the Economist Intelligence Unit,[2] the main risk for the global economy is general geopolitical uncertainty, with the main focus on the current US - China trade war that could escalate into an international trade war.

The recent emphasis on environmental demands and the narrowing gap of economic growth in international trade, rising levels of global debt, and nationalism/protectionism in various major markets; advanced cyber security methods are not the maritime sector’s most pressing threat.  Cyber security in 2017 caught the maritime transportation’s attention due to various shipping companies being attacked and stymied by cyber security breaches.  After 2017, these victim companies did their best to thwart media reporting on cyber-attacks the following year, though cyber researchers discovered malicious maritime events, like distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and other port and ship cyber incidents since Maersk’s NotPetya event. 

Currently, other demands trump cyber-security (decarbonization and economic downturn) that the shipping industry has failed to adequately prepare.

The old and new guards in the maritime transportation sector need to meet and collaborate for proper cyber prevention.  Wapack Labs has long advocated for corporate amalgamation with the C-suite, Physical Security, Human Resources divisions and Cyber Security units’ in order to form a solid proactive security team.  This blending of disciplines is needs to properly factor traditional, current and future prevention. 

Wapack Labs is located in New Boston, NH.  We are a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization.  For questions, comments or assistance in collaborative corporate support, please contact the lab directly at 1-844-492-7225, or        


[2]   ; The EIU is a British business within the Economist Group who provide forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis. 

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