The fact is, if the maritime industry were to drop off the face of the Earth tomorrow, we’d all be in big trouble. Over 11 billion tons of goods are shipped every year – from food, to medicine, to oil, everything that keeps human life running is sent around the world on vessels and fleets. Now experts are worried that cybersecurity on these ships could present a huge problem.
Due to the inescapable pandemic, the digital age has been fast-tracked, with technology weaving into our lives more than ever. We all know about the famous examples, like online Zoom classes in schools and the massive increase in online shopping in the past year, but the maritime industry has had a massive shift too. Due to the increased use of internet systems, attempted cyber attacks on vessels increased by 400% from February to June at the start of the pandemic.
Imagine if hackers took control of a ship carrying something important like COVID vaccines. The connected systems on these vessels run OT (operational technology) which controls physical systems on the ship, and IT (Information technology) which holds important data about cargo. If a hacker got into these systems, it could cost millions of dollars and delay the delivery of important supplies and products.
The problem is that a lot of these ships use outdated tech that’s hard to protect. A lot of the cybersecurity systems are based on tech used in other industries, and there’s nothing quite like the technology used by these ships. The maritime cybersecurity industry has grown out of this need for more adaptable solutions. Unfortunately, there are many cybersecurity systems in the maritime industry that have as many holes as swiss cheese, and end up leaving many blind spots that a hacker could take advantage of.
Many experts have discovered this vulnerability and are working to find new solutions. For example, the winner of the 2021 RSAC Annual Global InfoSec award for Cutting Edge Cybersecurity Startup of the year is Cydome, a leading cybersecurity company in the maritime industry.
“We’re thrilled to receive one of the most prestigious and coveted cybersecurity awards in the world from Cyber Defense Magazine. We knew the competition would be tough, and with top judges who are leading InfoSec experts from around the world, we couldn’t be more pleased,” said Nir Ayalon, CEO of Cydome. Cydome is an important part of many vessels and fleets, because it’s built to be adaptable to any system that a ship has, old or new, OT or IT.
The name of the game in technology right now is usability and simplicity, and as maritime cybersecurity becomes less niche, we’re seeing this kind of protection simplifying in the same way as other industries. Just like how stock apps have made the stock market accessible for millions, recent tech advancements are making cybersecurity just as simple.
That’s what the COO of Cydome said in a recent interview: “We build the product through their eyes and we wanted, on the one hand, that it’s going to be a top excellent cyber security product, but also very accessible, very understandable, something that’s not going to be like an alien landing in their computer.”
Cydome sends its product to vessels in a box containing the software and a page of instructions, and the crew can have it up and running in a matter of hours. With COVID making visits to vessels near impossible, solutions like these have changed the game in industry cybersecurity.
Maritime cybersecurity is a niche interest, but it’s one of the least known subjects that has the greatest potential to affect ordinary folk. Cybersecurity programs might be helpful to keep your computer virus free, but in the maritime industry, cutting edge solutions are literally preventing global catastrophes.