How Vulnerable are Maritime Vessels to Cyber Attacks?

Among the things that can impact how safe the workers aboard a vessel are is how big of vulnerabilities the vessel has. This includes things such as how vulnerable the vessel is to accidents or physical attacks. It also includes the level of vulnerability a vessel has to cyber attacks.

In a previous post, we discussed how, in today’s increasingly connected work, there is a potential for significant cyber security threats to come up when it comes to maritime vessels and that such threats have the potential to pose big risks to vessel worker safety.

Given this, it is important that vessels have solid protection against such threats. Unfortunately, a recent research report indicates that maritime vessels generally may have a great deal of vulnerability to such threats.

Among the vessel systems the report identified as being likely targets of attacks by cyber-attackers were navigation-related, cargo-related and propulsion-related systems. The report raised concerns that outdated software when it comes to these and other vessel systems may be creating cyber-threat vulnerabilities.

The report proposed some things that companies that operate maritime vessels could do to help reduce the cyber-threat vulnerability levels of their ships, including:

  • Be properly aware of cyber security risks.
  • Give crews proper training on cyber security.
  • Improve ship design (particularly make such design more cyber-security friendly).
  • Update cyber security systems.

As with other safety and security issues, how maritime vessel operators act when it comes to cyber security can have considerable impacts on the workers on their vessels, including impacts on their safety and well-being. So, what sorts and how big of efforts will be taken within the maritime industry moving forward to address potential cyber security vulnerabilities in vessels is an incredibly important issue.

Source: phys.org, “Outdated systems placing maritime vessels at risk of cyber-attack, study suggests,” Alan Williams, May 24, 2016