The U.S Government released on January 5, 2021, a cybersecurity plan to secure the nation’s maritime sector against cybersecurity threats that could endanger national security.

The Maritime Cyber Environment

With International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) mandate “to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems” and the increasing number of cyber-attacks against maritime and shipping organizations, cybersecurity of maritime and shipping organizations is a top priority. In fact, cyber-attacks on the maritime industry’s operational technology (OT) systems are reported to have increased by 900% over the last three years.

The maritime and shipping sector plays a vital role in national and global economy; 90% of global trade is being carried by shipping, while in the U.S. it contributes about $5.4 trillion to the national gross domestic product. Hence, cyber-attacks against critical national infrastructure such as the maritime industry can have crippling effects on the national economy.

The maritime organizations are increasingly depending on IT and OT to maximize the reliability and efficiency of maritime commerce. These cyber-enabled systems assist vessel navigation, communications, onboard engineering management, cargo management, safety, physical security, and environmental control. However, the proliferation of internet-facing systems across the maritime sector is introducing unknown risks and expanding the threat surface. The 2017 NotPetya cyber-attack was a warning call of the disastrous effects, which crippled the global maritime industry for more than a few days.

The Plan’s Objectives

According to the statement from National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien “[t]he National Maritime Cybersecurity Plan unifies maritime cybersecurity resources, stakeholders, and initiatives to aggressively mitigate current and near-term maritime cyberspace threats and vulnerabilities while complementing the National Strategy for Maritime Security. The Plan identifies government priority actions to close maritime cybersecurity gaps and vulnerabilities over the next five years.”

The Maritime Cybersecurity Plan would (Read more...)