From 1 January 2021 the IMO will enact new regulations encompassing cybersecurity measures under its IMO’s International Safety Management (ISM) Code which must be incorporated into vessels’ Safety Management Systems.

The maritime shipping industry, like many others, is becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber breaches due to its broadening attack surface.  Burgeoning digitalisation and interconnectedness of the maritime industry, whether in vessels, ports or general operations, is providing a window of opportunity for attackers seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in those systems and eco-systems for financial gain or sabotage.

There are thousands of ports around the world receiving more than 50,000 commercial vessels, making over 5 million port calls per year.  One can envisage a scenario where a compromised vessel may be able to spread malware or nefarious activities across each port it visits.

Recent attacks hit the IMO itself as well as the world’s second, third and fourth-largest container lines, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Cosco, CMA CGM and the world’s largest cruise shipping group Carnival Corporation.  Hence why the implementation and control of cyber security has been highlighted as a key aspect of safety by the IMO as technology becomes essential in ship operations.

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