Security and Intelligence in California

According to Barry Collin, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Security and Intelligence in California, “the convergence of the ‘virtual world’ and ‘physical world’ form the vehicle of cyber terrorism.” Collin further clarifies that, “the virtual world is the place in which computer programs function and data moves whereas the physical world is the place in which we live and function.” (Colin, 1996) In the information age, the maritime transportation system has become increasingly reliant on Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Vessels navigation systems, safety equipment, cargo computers, and automated engine rooms have become so advanced that some large cargo carriers can operate with a crew size of twelve (or less).

Unfortunately the ever increasing progress in technology creates more and more avenues of cyber-attack. “In 2014, the IMO consulted their membership on what maritime cyber security guidelines should look like. Two years later they issued their interim cyber security risk management guidelines, which are broad and not particularly maritime specific. And now, unsurprisingly, ships are being hacked.” (Martin and Hopcraft, 2018). In 2018 Ken Munro, who owns a white hat hacker company called Pen Test Partners, showed that vessels could be used to block the English Channel by hacking into their navigation systems. “The attack targets a computer-powered navigation system called the Electronic Chart Display (ECDIS), which provides crews an alternative to using paper charts.” (Kelion, 2018) Furthermore, “A French researcher, who goes by the nickname x0rz, had earlier demonstrated that many ships never changed their satellite communications equipment’s default username and password, and that it was relatively easy to find cases via an app to gain remote access.” (Kelion, 2018). Steven Caponi and Kate Belmont, cyber security experts for Blank Rome LLP, state that, “cyber security on board merchant vessels and at major ports is 10-20 years behind the curve compared with office-based computer systems and competing industries throughout the world.” (Caponi and Belmont, 2015)

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Increasing the importance of cyber security to businesses is essential. Large vessels have the potential to block waterways, cause huge oil or chemical spills, and carry goods to areas dependent on supplies. “Responsibility to actively defend against the risks of a cyber-attack and be in a position to effectively respond to an incident rests squarely on the shoulders of individual ship owners, shipping companies, port operators, and others involved in the maritime industry. The failure to assume this responsibility undoubtedly will lead to serious and potentially devastating consequences, including government fines, direct losses, third party liability, lost customers, and reputational damage that cannot be repaired.” (Caponi and Belmont, 2015) It is the responsibility of government agencies such as the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection to not only create regulations but also create incentives to improve security posture. Security agencies should encourage sharing information on threats, self-regulating security consortiums, and providing benefits for going above and beyond the bare minimum security measures. Additionally, “Companies looking to learn more about the steps they can take to meet the evolving cyber threat head-on should consult with cyber security professionals and available literature. Widely available resources include the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which issues the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cyber security and the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, developed pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7.” (Caponi and Belmont, 2015). Only coordinated efforts between industry and government can overcome the current shortcomings of cyber security of the maritime industry.

References:

Collin, B. L. (1996). The Future of Cyberterrorism: Where the Physical and Virtual Worlds Converge. Annual International Symposium Criminal Justice Issues. vol. 93, no. 4. Retrieved from: https://edge.apus.edu/access/content/group/399674/…

Martin, K. and Hopcraft, R. (2018). Why 50,000 ships are so vulnerable to cyberattacks. The Conversation. Retrieved from: https://phys.org/news/2018-06-ships-vulnerable-cyberattacks.html

Kelion, L. (2018). Ship hack ‘risks chaos in English Channel’. BBC News. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44397872

Caponi, S. L. and Belmont, K. B. (2015). Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal; Clifton.Vol. 27, Iss. 1. Retrieved from: https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docv…

 

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