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Maritime economy under cyberattack

After recent hacker attack on American port of San Diego and after previous acts of such cyber-aggression aimed at port in Barcelona or container ship owners: Cosco and Maersk (as a result of which it sustained loss in the amount of USD 200,000,000) we need to ask: What is it? Limited aggression directed at specific targets or cyber-war? According to Commander Tomasz Szubrycht, the rector of the Naval Academy in Gdynia, cyber-attacks are deliberate actions of one country against the economy of the other. However, in the cases mentioned above he does not exclude actions of competitors of attacked entities. In any cases, these actions have the goal of incapacitating, paralysing – for example the mentioned ports or ship owners – or stealing information. Infecting or launching electronic system of e.g. container terminals of course leads to them becoming paralysed. And depending on the type of these actions and what effort must be undertaken to remove their consequences, we may deal not only with chaos, but also decrease in funds of a given entity or country. Moreover, the attacker is not only invisible, often impossible to be detected, but he also has the advantage of being the side that selects the time, place and manner of acting. As such, an entity or country which does not defend itself suffers not only the financial consequences of the attack itself, but must also spend money to effectively secure itself for the future. But it is still not able to do so in 100%. 

Who is the attacker? Commander Szubrycht gives an example of North Korea which has an outdated army, but at the same time trains its students in such a way as to make them easily navigate through cyberspace. In his assessment perhaps it often happens that if it is difficult to compete with one of powerful countries in reality, then one may attempt to “hurt it” and expose it to big losses in cyberspace.

Are our ports, terminals and sailing companies safe in relation to cyber-crime? In the opinion of the rector of the Naval Academy, this question cannot be answered in
a conclusive manner. As such, the less information concerning security methods, the better. But to his knowledge, attack or attempting an attack on Hamburg or Rotterdam or some big European hub would be much more media friendly than an attack on one of our ports. One the one side, it is a fault, but not on the other side, we still do not play such a significant role in global economic exchange via sea that our ports, though becoming more and more important and performing better and better on international market, are still on the sidelines of main trade routes. As such, they should not be the main target of cyber-attacks.

Digital solutions in the maritime economy are to be one of the topics of the Maritime Economy Forum Gdynia 2018.

Article developed in cooperation with "Namiary na Morze i Handel" magazine.

fot. safety4sea.com

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