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Seafarers must get cyber security training

October 25th 2017
by Martyn Wingrove

Shipping companies can avoid the costly cyber attacks by training their seafarers and onshore employees, explains Editor Martyn Wingrove

Ship operators are not doing enough to educate crew about the risks of cyber attacks or how to avoid them. This was made clear by a survey, which reported last week that 84% of respondents had either very limited or no training on cyber security.

While, more than half of the respondents acknowledging that they had a degree of responsibility for maintaining the security of IT systems on board the vessels.

The survey was conducted on Twitter by satellite communications provider NSSLGlobal. Up to 570 crew members responded to the survey and made it clear that maritime employers were not doing enough.

This is despite shipping increasingly becoming embroiled in costly cyber attacks. Maersk Group suffered from an extensive cyber attack in June this year and we recently reported that BW Group was also hit by what it called an “unauthorised access”.

This did not impact communications, BW’s fleet of tankers and gas carriers, nor its customers and stakeholders – so the affects were limited to its own IT.

It is clear that shipping company employees, including their seafarers, are the front line of cyber security, which it is why it is so important to train them on the cyber threats and security implications.

Ship registries have woken to the fact that seafarers need cyber training. We reported last week that Liberian Registry has created cyber security training.

This reminds shipowners and managers that they need to add cyber risk management to the onboard safety systems required by the ISM Code and Solas.

Shipowners need to react by providing cyber security training to crew and ensure that their employees know the threat risks. Otherwise there will be many more avoidable cyber breeches and non-functioning shipping company IT systems.

What is worse, hackers could get access to ship operating networks and then cause some serious damage.