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Cyber Security: Smart, Safe Shipping

As part of Steamship Mutual’s loss prevention initiatives, the Club has released their latest film ‘Cyber Security: Smart, Safe Shipping’ highlighting the implications of a potential cyber security breach for a shipping company. All businesses rely heavily upon computer systems to sustain their operations. These systems improve operational efficiency and capability, but they can be vulnerable to the risk of being compromised by cyber-attack. Such attacks can take various forms, and if that risk of attack materialises, operational effectiveness can be seriously compromised. Consequently, companies are becoming increasingly aware of cyber risk, and are taking a variety of measures to harden system security, raise awareness of cyber risk amongst their staff and strengthen procedures to mitigate that risk.

Cyber risk however is not confined to shore-based operations. Commercial ships are becoming progressively more dependent upon computers to operate and control various shipboard systems. These systems may be integrated, and the ability for ships to connect to the internet is growing as the communication demand grows. As with computers ashore, shipboard systems are equally vulnerable to cyber-attack. If a vessel’s systems is compromised, the effect of that could be considerably more serious than would be the case ashore. The ship, its crew and cargo could be placed at risk, and could in addition create risk to other parties. As with cyber risk ashore, the human interface commonly represents the principal weakness in the cyber security framework.

Because of the potential threats that shipping operations pose to the environment, other vessels and port infrastructure, it is vital that shipowners and operators are aware of cyber risk, and that awareness on the part of individual seafarers is increased so that they become particularly vigilant in adhering to company procedures designed to maintain the integrity of computer systems, and in monitoring the reliability of the data output from shipboard computer systems.

The objective of the film is to assist in the process of increasing awareness of cyber risks at sea in an effort to help control an ever growing threat. As with previous productions, the film has been produced by Callisto Productions Limited of Aberdeen with the financial support of The Ship Safety Trust”.

To coincide with issuing the ‘Cyber Security: Smart, Safe Shipping’ film, Steamship Mutual confirms the Club’s support for the Be Cyber Aware At Sea campaign. This campaign encourages the sharing of research data, best practice cyber guidelines and educational articles to help all stakeholders understand the challenges that the digital era brings to shipping and offshore operations. 

Other resources


Read a review by Michael Grey, MBE, published in Ship and Offshore Repair Journal.

BIMCO Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships