A guide to manage cyber risk

Ships are increasingly using systems that rely on digitization, integration, and automation. As a result security of data and other sensitive information has become a major concern of maritime. Training and awareness of appropriate company policies and procedures may provide an effective response to cyber incidents. Here are some guidelines to help maintain maritime cyber security.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 1: Network security

Nowadays, networks are critical to the operation of a ship. It is imperative that these systems do not expose systems to cyber-attack. However, shipboard computer networks usually lack boundary protection measures and segmentation of networks. Such networks are among the most common cyber vulnerabilities on board existing ships, according to a paper published by the International Chamber of Shipping. Simple policies implementation and appropriate architectural and technical response can help manage and/or prevent these attacks from causing harm to your organisation. Onboard networks should be partitioned by firewalls to create safe zones. The fewer communications links and devices in a zone, the more secure the systems and data will be.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 2: Malware prevention

Malware is any malicious content which is designed to access, gain control and damage systems. In other words, a malware could seriously impact your ship’s systems or services. Organisations should implement an appropriate anti-malware policy to defend in depth their networks both onboard and ashore, filter out unauthorized access and malicious content.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 3: Risk Management Regime

Why to embed an appropriate risk management regime across a shipping organisation? Organisations should clearly communicate their approach to risk management with the development of applicable policies and practices. These aim to maintain marine cyber security, ensuring that personnel onboard and ashore is aware of the approach, how decisions are made, and any applicable risk boundaries.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 4: Secure configuration

Configuration management improves the security of systems and eliminates the risk of compromise of both them and any information. Therefore, organisations should develop a strategy to remove unnecessary functionality from systems, and quickly fix known vulnerabilities!

Maritime Cyber Security Step 5: Managing user privileges

All users should be provided with a reasonable level of system privileges and rights needed for each role. The granting of highly elevated system privileges should be carefully controlled and managed; this principle is sometimes referred to as ‘least privilege’.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 6: Employees education and awareness

Personnel both onboard and ashore play a critical role in a shipping organisation's security and so it's important that security rules and the technology provided enable them to do their job. A systematic delivery of awareness programmers and training always deliver security expertise as well as help  establish a security-conscious culture within the organisation.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 7: Incident management

It is of high importance that an organisation identifies any internal or external source of specialist incident management expertise. Effective incident management policies and processes may help to improve resilience and reduce any impact with respect to maritime cyber security.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 8: Monitoring

Good monitoring is the answer to the question “How do I detect actual or attempted attacks on systems and services?”.  Monitoring allows organisations to ensure that systems are being used appropriately, complying with any regulatory requirement.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 9: Removable media controls

Wondering why to produce removable media policies? These can control the use of removable media for the import and export of information, limit the types of media that can be used together with the users, systems, and types of information that can be transferred.

Maritime Cyber Security Step 10: Remote system access

Remote system access not only offers great benefits, but it also exposes new risks. Risk based policies and procedures should be established in order to support remote access to systems, applicable to service providers.

Either way, cyber incidents can put both organisation’s operations and human lives at risk. One thing is sure, operators will not be able to defend themselves alone! Like in many other digital developments, experts suggest cooperation and collaboration and resilience to find the right answers when it comes to maritime cyber security.

EU GDPR Regulation: Everything you need to know

GDPR was adopted on 8 April 2016 and replaces the EU Data Protection Directive. The Regulation will be applicable to all EU Member States and will come into force on 25 May 2018. The Regulation updates the current legislation as a result of digitalization and technological developments and increases harmonization in standards between EU member states. It aims to protect individuals from unauthorized use of their personal information from organisations and to be easy for data controllers around the world to follow.


cyber security in shipping industry

  • Study conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Resilient found that organizations are not ready for GDPR.
  • 77% of respondents do not have a formal cyber security incident response plan (CSIRP)
  • Most countries surveyed do not report confidence in their ability to comply with GDPR.
  • According to TMSA 3 Best Practice Guide (Element 13), Companies should implement procedures regarding security items concerning shore based installations.

Cyber security in shipping industry should be considered as part of a holistic approach throughout a ship’s lifecycle. SQE MARINE consulting firm has created a clear pathway to cyber security, summarizing the various security best practices and controls that operators should consider implementing.

Further tips on how to help keep your data safe; guidelines towards an effective response to cyber incidents based upon training and awareness of appropriate organisation policies and procedures may be found in the 2nd Quarterly Special FOCUS Edition dedicated on Cyber Security!