A coalition of shipping industry associations has published The Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships, laying out best practices for the giant ships that ply the seas, and revealing that these behemoths are routinely infected with worms, ransomware, and malware spread by infected USB devices. The document recounts incidents in which infected ships were stranded because malware caused their computerized navigation to fail, and there were no paper charts to fall back on; incidents where fleet owners paid off ransomware demands to keep ships at sea safe, and where the entire digital infrastructure of a ship at sea failed due to malware that spread thanks to weak passwords.
Dr Anton Grashion, Managing Director, Security Practice at Cylance:
“Shipboard computers have to deal with a number of challenges that are less commonplace when we think about land-based IT network installations. For instance, they may only have an intermittent internet connection, which is precisely where security solutions that require continuous cloud access to be effective fall down. There may also be few expert IT resources at the disposal of the maritime network with remote access also being patchy. Similar challenges are faced by very geographically remote unmanned installations such as wind farms etc and the same potential for malicious attacks exist.
Adoption of a prevention first strategy, one that doesn’t rely on cloud access to be effective and one that doesn’t need signatures at all would seem to make sense.”