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Cyber attack – a real danger to shipping

Wed 17 May 2017 by Paul Fanning

Cyber attack – a real danger to shipping

In the light of the recent ransomware attacks, Paul Fanning emphasises the importance of cyber security

The potentially beneficial effect of digitisation for the shipping industry is a perennial topic in these comments, but like anything, it comes with potential hazards.

These hazards were made very apparent recently with the recent ransomware attack on companies and organisations worldwide. Dubbed Wannacry, this infected organisations in 150 countries, such as the UK’s National Health Service, German rail network Deutsche Bahn, US delivery group FedEx and car manufacturers Renault and Nissan.

The malware was spread by fake emails, infecting computers on key networks over the weekend. Microsoft said this was a wake-up call for all governments and industries as it affects data that can be accessed by hackers.

What this attack has done is to remind organisations of their vulnerability. And clearly shipping is not immune to this sort of activity.

Of course, the need for cybersecurity in shipping should not be news to anyone. Indeed, the industry’s exposure to this risk has been a topic almost as long as digitisation has.

But it’s one thing knowing about a risk. It is another thing dealing with it.

The bad news for shipowners is that, as shipping becomes ever more digitised, the threat is going to get bigger, not smaller. The good news, however, is that technology, systems and protocols exist to combat it.

With that in mind, perhaps the recent attacks serve as a timely reminder for shipowners that, when it comes to cyber security, complacency is simply not an option.

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