It is known that due to COVID-19 pandemic, maritime and offshore energy activities are being increasingly conducted remotely. As a result of this digitalization shift, maritime ransomware attacks are on the rise.
ccording to Philipp Stratmann, President and CEO of Ocean Power Technologies, as more ocean-based activities are interwoven by digital threads, transmitting data safely and securely will be necessary to support these industries and ensure shipping is able to keep pace with the evolving speed of technology.
What is more, with so much of the global economy and security dependent on the ocean, the ramifications of inaction continue to grow. The most recent estimates from the Department of Homeland Security predict that cyberattacks against oil and gas infrastructure around the world could cost upward of nearly $2 billion. And despite the clear risks of these cybersecurity threats, a 2020 industry survey of those working in the offshore oil and gas industry found that nearly half were unaware if there was a dedicated cybersecurity person or team onboard each offshore oil and gas asset.
The world’s four largest maritime shipping companies have all been hit with cyberattacks since 2017, and maritime ransomware attacks tripled from 2019 to 2020 as companies of all sizes across the industry have become a bigger target for cybercriminals.
…Philipp Stratmann added.
It’s clear that urgent action is needed to secure our seas to defend against these emerging threats and ensure offshore activities can be carried out uninterrupted. But support for bolstering our cybersecurity infrastructure is lagging. According to a 2013 report from the Brookings Institute, of the $2.6 billion in federal funding earmarked for maritime port security efforts, less than $6 million—which amounts to less than 1%—had been awarded for cybersecurity projects.
However, collaboration across the private sector can help expand and improve global maritime cybersecurity awareness, preparedness, and response, Zac Staples, Founder and CEO of Fathom5, an industrial technology development company, noted.
Autonomous ocean technologies are being explored as a way to monitor vast swaths of remote ocean environments and are showing promise to establish communications links for transferring ocean-based data to shore. As these technologies operate in deeper and more dangerous waters, bringing military-grade cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and integrated systems and capabilities to these operations will help ensure safe and secure data transmission of actionable intelligence.
… Zac Staples continued.
Concluding, the increased dependence of offshore activities on cyber-enabled systems has tremendous implications for both the economy and national security, and it demands an entirely new approach to mitigate the emerging risks. By putting in place a more secure cybersecurity infrastructure at sea, industries and governments can gain more control of their offshore domain today and stay ahead of tomorrow’s threat.