Pulse - The AI-driven solution for charterers

Futureproofing your digital journey with maritime cybersecurity

Regardless of the size of your maritime operations or your digital maturity, you need to focus on cybersecurity. Yet, in the early stages of digital transformation projects, it's usually functionality, speed, and shipping efficiency set as the top priorities. While these are critical drivers for your tech stack modernisation, so is maritime cyber resilience — or you risk becoming vulnerable to potential threats that may exploit your newly introduced systems.

Think of strong cyber defenses as a competitive advantage, too. It ensures business continuity, while giving confidence to stakeholders that your sensitive data is secure.   

Let's review why maritime cybersecurity should be a foundation for your digital transformation journey.

Why you should care about cybersecurity in the maritime industry

As you integrate more digital technologies into your shipping operations (e.g., autonomous vessels, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain etc), you increase the attack surface. In other words, there are more potential entry points for attackers, from navigation systems to cargo handling and supply chain management software. 

These key maritime industry trends help to make the case for enhanced cybersecurity: 

Increased adoption of unmanaged technology 

One of the challenges for security teams is the lack of visibility into unmanaged IoT and operational technology (OT) assets, which are increasingly integrated with information technology (IT) systems. IoT and OT devices don't support the installation of agents and, for this reason, can't be secured with traditional IT security solutions. IoT and OT, if not adequately secured, can serve as gateways for attackers to infiltrate larger networks.

Another concern is with legacy technology, which may rely on outdated systems that are no longer supported and can't be patched. In this case, infrastructure modernisation can help you strengthen cybersecurity in the maritime industry as you replace vulnerable devices with more secure and up-to-date technology.

Reliance on remote connectivity

As vessels incorporate remote monitoring and connected management systems, they become more reliant on satellite communications and other wireless networks. Increased connectivity poses risks, too, including the interception of sensitive data or disruption of critical systems. 

Explore the top benefits of modern maritime communication systems.

Rise of cyberwarfare

Critical infrastructure — including the international shipping industry — is a prime target for nation-state cyberattacks due to their strategic importance in the economy and national security. In the case of ports, a breach could cause operational disruptions, including ship and boat traffic. Last year, for example, Japan's largest and busiest port, Nagoya, had to halt shipments for two days due to a ransomware attack

How to improve maritime security

Following the best practices of maritime cybersecurity helps to ensure the safety, reliability, and integrity of maritime systems and operations. Here are 10 steps to get started:

  1. Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities and maritime cyber threats
  2. Evaluate your third-party vendors and service providers to ensure they adhere to security best practices, especially if they have access to critical systems or data. Such is the concern with digital supply chain risk that Gartner predicts that 45% of companies worldwide will have experienced software supply chain attacks by 2025. 
  3. Develop and enforce comprehensive maritime port cybersecurity policies and procedures for all aspects of your operations, including vessel management, shore-based systems, and communication networks.
  4. Leverage maritime security solutions that encrypt your data in transit. This way, you secure communications between vessels, onshore facilities, and other relevant parties, preventing unauthorised access and interception of sensitive information.
  5. Train your maritime personnel on cybersecurity best practices (e.g., using strong passwords, implementing multifactor authentication, recognising phishing attempts, and keeping software updated) and create awareness about the potential cyber risks. After all, phishing and stolen or compromised credentials are the two most prevalent attack vectors, per IBM's data breach report.
  6. Implement strict access controls to limit and manage user permissions, ensuring that only authorised personnel have access to critical systems and data.
  7. Leverage network segmentation to isolate critical maritime systems from less critical ones, preventing the lateral movement of cyber threats within the network.
  8. Deploy firewalls and intrusion detection systems to monitor and control network traffic, identifying and responding to potential cyber threats in real time.
  9. Regularly update and patch your digital assets, including vessel software, navigation tools, communication devices, and control systems, to address vulnerabilities. These measures can make a difference given that basic cyber hygiene protects against 99% of attacks, according to the Microsoft Digital Defense Report.
  10. Develop and regularly test an incident response plan to ensure a fast and effective response to any maritime cybersecurity incident.

Follow industry best practices for cybersecurity in the shipping industry

Several organisations and frameworks provide guidance and rules for securing maritime operations. Check them out:

  • Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management: High-level recommendations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on how to protect shipping from cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
  • ISA/IEC 62443: It's a series of standards addressing the security of industrial automation and control systems (IACS), including those used in maritime environments.
  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework: It's a risk-based approach to managing cybersecurity risk. These guidelines are widely adopted across various industries.
  • NVIC 01-20: Guidance from the U.S. Coast Guard's Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars (NVICs) on how to comply with the requirements to assess, document, and address computer system or network vulnerabilities.
  • BIMCO Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships: These guidelines from the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) offer practical advice on implementing cybersecurity measures in the maritime environment.
  • IACS Unified Requirements (URs) on the Cyber Resilience of Ships: The UR E26 focuses on the OT-IT integration into the vessel’s network, while the UR E27 addresses system integrity.

Boost your maritime cyber resilience with secure email management 

For one-third of executives surveyed by PwC, increasing resilience is a main goal when investing in supply chain technology. Having a secure email management software is a great way to start. 

With Stream, Sedna's email platform purpose-built for maritime operations, you get enterprise-grade security to ISO 27001 standards. Cloud-based data storage, intelligent firewall, and constant backup give you peace of mind that your data is safe and secure. 

And more: Sedna leverages AI to automatically spot, tag, and remove personally identifiable information (PII), safeguarding personal data and helping you stay compliant with GDPR and CPAA laws. 

By choosing Sedna, you drive digital transformation without compromising maritime cybersecurity and compliance. Book a demo to see our platform in action.

Driving faster action and insights from your core business system

Connected Apps integrate business-critical data hidden across your digital ecosystem. Make informed decisions without needing to switch contexts or systems.