Cyber Attacks could easily sink Cruise Ships says Government of UK

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The Government of UK has made it official that Cruise Ships can be cyber attacked by hackers and can be made to sink, causing untold loss to lives on-board. This dire warning comes from the “Cyber Security for Ships” code of practice, written by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and Distributed by Whitehall on behalf of the government of UK.

In August 2017, a US Navy Destroyer USS McCain collided with an oil tanker in east waters of Singapore. Many media sources then reported that the collision was caused by a cyber attack launched by either North Korea or Russia. As these two national forces have the ability to launch such notorious attacks on the infrastructure of nations which they consider as their foes.

Whitehall’s paper has endorsed this issue and stressed out that this could be practically possible if hackers could distort mapping systems or the ship’s control onboard, causing it to hit another vessel or run aground.

So, the seafaring community can avoid such situations by making the first move which is to ensure that everybody is educated in cybersecurity awareness. This helps those protecting the systems to spot a cyber attack and know what action has to be taken in response to that particular situation.

And it is better if shipping companies opt to appoint a cybersecurity chief to implement and respond to all cybersecurity related issues or systems flaws that may be found.

Also, shipping companies must be aware of the fact that threats come from other sources than just internet. For example memory cards when inserted into a network can help circulate malware which could result in the disruption of the entire network and thereby destroy it.

So, ship managers should start inculcating certain policies among their IT staff which are being followed in the corporate world. Like banning the use of USB sticks, updating the system software with the latest security updates, using genuine software and such.

So, it’s better if the shipping industry learns quickly that cybersecurity is not an issue to ignore. As there are direct and indirect threats to shipping companies and vessels that the industry needs to be aware of and invest to repel.

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Naveen Goud
Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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