How Singapore Ensures Maritime Cybersecurity
The maritime industry has always been an important part of Singapore’s history, constantly driving its economic growth. It’s not surprising that the Republic is devoting considerable efforts to protect its marine sector against the newly emerged cyber threat. What is Singapore doing to ensure maritime cybersecurity and can the rest of the world benefit too?
What is the situation with maritime cybersecurity?
The age of digitalisation in maritime has come with impressive innovations and powerful solutions that make the industry more efficient. However, this progress comes with the burden of fighting off an ever-increasing number of cyber attacks. According to the latest findings, around 17 million attacks occur every week worldwide. That’s not taking into account the amount that might not be reported due to the fear that the breached company might damage its reputation or lose the trust of clients.
According to the annual survey of more than 350 maritime professionals by BIMCO and Fairplay, 22% of respondents in 2018 said that they have been a victim of cybercrime, 72% of which revealing that their own company was affected. This number has dropped from 34% in 2017, highlighting the effectiveness of proper cybersecurity measures and crew training in cyber awareness. The percentage of untrained personnel fell from 76% in 2017 to just 27% in 2018.
Why is Singapore ahead of the game?
The world’s first International Cyber Centre of Excellence was opened in Singapore by Wärtsilä, a Finnish company, known for its smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for marine and energy markets. Its purpose is to aid in cyber threat awareness and incident response training. By utilising the intelligence feeds from all over the world, the Centre will be able to offer support and assistance to small & large vessels, ports and suppliers in real-time.
This comes on the heels of the announcement by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in April about plans to establish a 24/7 Maritime Cybersecurity Operation Centre in 2018. It will deal with maritime cybersecurity infrastructure, focusing on early detection, monitoring, analysis, and response to potential cyber attacks.
On a more academic level, MPA has also teamed up with the Singapore Maritime Institute to develop a Maritime Cybersecurity Research programme to prepare for the cyber protection of various smart technologies used in shipping. MPA is also expanding efforts to create a cybersecurity awareness course in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic. It will help ship officers, managers, and shipping company superintendents manage cyber risks and respond to incidents.
How can the rest of the world catch up?
Even though most of the programmes discussed above are based in Singapore, it will serve the global maritime security. Although, it is still important to take local initiatives to ensure all networks are protected. For example, according to the Maritime Cybersecurity Survey by Jones Walker LLP, in the US a false sense of preparedness is prevalent in the maritime industry. After conducting a questionnaire of 126 key executives and managers from U.S. maritime companies, the researchers concluded that 69% of respondents were confident that the industry is ready to tackle all cybersecurity challenges. However, 64% were worried that their own companies could not handle the consequences of a data breach.