Cyber Attacks On Maritime Targets

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The frequency and severity of cyber-attacks on maritime targets increases every year. Often the damage is not discovered until years later. The cyber-attack on the port of Antwerp began in 2011 and continued until it was discovered in 2013. The Danish Maritime Authority was attacked in 2012 by a virus contained in a PDF (portable document format by Adobe). The virus spread throughout the Maritime Authority’s network and into Danish government institutions before it was discovered in 2014. Reasons for the ever-increasing security exposure include the growing use and interdependence of computer systems, the relative ease and extreme value of executing attacks, and the exceptional difficulty in identifying the culprits and bringing them to justice. Regrettably, some port authorities contribute to their vulnerability by addressing cyber-security as a technology threat best left to IT professionals. On the contrary, successful and serious cyber-attacks are inevitable and the planned response must be subject to the same governance and scrutiny that any existential threat would receive. One reason that port authorities hesitate to engage cyber-threats at the Board level is a lack of appreciation for just how impossible cyber-security is. A more complete understanding of the factors that complicate cyber-security can assist Directors in stepping up to set priorities and oversee contingency and remediation plans.

Cyber-risk is a relatively new issue at ports, some of which
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