A new research facility aiming to address the key cyber security challenges facing the shipping industry is being established at the University of Plymouth. The £3million Cyber-SHIP Lab, supported by funding from Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation, and industry, will gather connected maritime systems currently found on an actual ship’s bridge.
Experts in cyber security and information systems will assess such systems for weaknesses, and identify the human and technological changes that are necessary to make them secure for the future.
The Lab is being developed and delivered in cooperation with key industry sectors including equipment manufacturers, solution developers, shipping and port operators, ship builders, classification agencies and insurance companies.
It will include edge maritime technology including radar equipment, a voyage data recorder (VDR), an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), an automatic identification system (AIS) and communications devices.
It will also complement the University’s maritime facilities, which include a simulator dedicated to training professional seafarers, and a lab examining latest advances in cyber security.
Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean for Science and Engineering and Principal Investigator for the Project, commented:
The creation of the Cyber-SHIP Lab is a transformational step towards developing a national centre for research into maritime cyber-security. It will support a range of research and training that cannot be achieved with simulators alone, and also facilitate the development and delivery of new maritime cyber provision for graduates, postgraduates and industry
He added that cyber-attacks are a Tier 1 National UK threat, and that despite the fact that the maritime sector is advancing technologically, ‘it is not well protected against cyber or cyber-physical attacks and accidents.’
The Cyber-SHIP Lab, which has been funded for three years with a view to eventually become self-sustaining, will address a number of complex and interlinked issues affecting the maritime industry.
Finally, it will consider both technological and human behavioural aspects, in order to mitigate threats, especially considering the huge variation in vessel types, which can be subjected to cyber-attacks in differing ways for differing motivations.