Shipping companies are extremely vulnerable to Cyber Attacks


As per the World’s 1st container line offering company Maersk, hackers can easily take on GPS systems and cause a crash to a ship on its course line. But Insurance companies are refusing to offer cyber threat coverage from such incidents to their clients. And with more than 90% of world trade being made through vessels, the stakes are high and are making ship owners extremely anxious.

It’s a known fact that cybercriminals can hack any network in the world- all thanks to the technology of digitalization. And Ships, when exposed to interference from electronic navigation devices such as the Global Positioning System, can cause serious trouble to the ship owners, as the crash rate increases to 70%.

Last year, South Korea reported that 100s of its shipping vessels had to return to the port, as their GPS signals were jammed due to a cyber attack initiated by a North Korean Cyber Army.

In 2014, US Coast Guard officials had a tough time dealing with such situation for several hours as one of a prankster decided to jam their GPS signals for not allowing him and his friends to go for an ocean ride.

Though the scale of seriousness is high in such cases, Cyber or Hull Insurance policies still stick to their stipulations which say that they will not cover the risk of a navigation system being jammed or physical damage to the ship caused by a cyber attack. They claim that the setup rate for the insurance premium will never work out to them in a business perspective.

Ship Operator Consolidated Marine Management said in a presentation last month that hackers are now spreading ransomware to ship’s computer systems and is demanding a ransom to unlock the computer system. The new threat has taken up the significance of the issue to a new level.

However, some insurance companies serving ship owners claim that large policyholders can still negotiate to have the exclusion on the cyber attack removed from the policy, based on certain regulations. This, however, doesn’t apply to non-commercial vessels which navigate the waters for Tourism purposes.

Now, imagine, if a large cruise filled with high profile guests deviates from its course-line and reaches troubled waters…?

What if hackers hijack a vehicle by locking down its functions through the computer network and hold people for ransom….?

Anything is possible in the world of Internet of Things (IoT)….isn’t it?

Well, the good news is that Britain is bringing in a new law where insurance companies offering premium policies have to include Cyber Attack coverage as a mandatory clause. Here, a cyber attack includes all web related attacks prevailing in the digital world.

Hope, the other insurance companies doing business in different parts of the world do the same.

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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