IoT and Piracy Increase Risks to Shipping

A hacker causes an oil platform located off the coast of Africa to tilt to one side, forcing it to temporarily shut down. A port’s cyber systems are infiltrated by hackers to locate specific containers loaded with illegal drugs and remove them undetected.

These are just a few of the cyber attacks on the shipping industry reported to date, according to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE’s (AGCS) fourth annual Safety and Shipping Review 2016.

But such attacks are often under-reported as companies opt to deal with breaches internally for fear of worrying stakeholders, AGCS notes.

“When reports of attacks do surface, details are usually vague, making it extremely difficult to gauge the headway the industry has made in strengthening online security.”

The shipping industry’s reliance on interconnected technology also poses risks. Cyber risk exposure is growing beyond data loss.

Technological advances including the Internet of Things (IoT) and electronic navigation means the industry may have less than five years to prepare for the risk of a vessel loss, AGCS warns.

There has already been one known incidence of Somali pirates having infiltrated a shipping company’s systems to identify vessels passing through the Gulf of Aden with valuable cargoes and minimal on-board security, leading to the hijacking of a vessel.

In the words of Captain Andrew Kinsey, senior marine risk consultant AGCS:

“Pirates are already abusing holes in cyber security to target the theft of specific cargoes. The cyber impact cannot be overstated. The simple fact is you can’t hack a sextant.”

The industry needs more robust cyber technology in order to monitor the movement of stolen cargoes, according to Kinsey.

For the first time in five years piracy attacks at sea failed to decline in 2015. International Maritime Bureau statistics show there were 246 piracy attacks worldwide in 2015, up from 245 in 2014.

Attacks in South East Asia continue to increase, with the region accounting for 60 percent of global incidents and Vietnam a new hotspot, AGCS reports.

The Insurance Information Institute offers facts and statistics on marine accidents here.

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