Robert Dorey, Astaara
There has been a fourfold increase in cyber-attacks in the maritime industry since February, according to Astaara, a cyber insurance specialist.
In a white paper published in partnership with the British Ports Association (BPA), which highlights strategies to promote cyber security in ports, Astaara outlined the scale of the challenge facing ports.
Difficulties have been exacerbated by increased remote working and reliance on technology in maritime business continuity throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Astaara said. This has also increased demand for cyber security and resilience products, it added.
One attack on May 9 saw computer systems at the Shahid Rajaee port in the Strait of Hormuz targeted, creating traffic jams of delivery trucks and delays in shipments. The attack is believed to have come in response to a failed Iranian cyberattack on an Israeli water facility, Astaara said.
Astaara noted that criminal groups remain the most common source of cyber attacks, but said the number of suspected state-based and ‘hacktivist’ attacks is growing, and also driving up demand for cyber insurance.
While the global cyber security market is expected to grow to £182 billion by 2021, this will still represent only 10 percent of the value lost to cyber attacks each year, Astaara noted. It estimated the cyber market is currently worth around £144 billion.
Robert Dorey, chief executive at Astaara, said COVID-19 has left maritime business more vulnerable. “COVID-19 impacts the maritime industry like no other, principally due to complex supply chain relationships,” he said.
“Many activities, for example crew change, marine warranty survey or superintendent spot check, will be done differently or just may not happen,” he said.
“Criminals realise this and do not care about the human cost of COVID-19, or their crimes. They are not interested in the morality of their action. Instead they are interested in disruption and making money; they see Covid-19 as an opportunity.”
The BPA represents over 100 port members and over 80 associate members. Mark Simmonds, head of policy and external affairs at the BPA, said: “As port systems become ever more connected and digitalised, it is important that security and resilience is built into processes and training. Cyber security should be a board-level issue for all ports and we are committed to sharing and improving both government policy and industry practice wherever we can.”
Astaara, British Ports Association, BPA, Robert Dorey, Mark Simmonds