October 3, 2022

Support for ship cybersecurity enhancement

Recent developments in ICT technology have increased constant connectivity to the Internet on ships, thus onboard and shipboard equipment is expanding its capability of communication. As a result, the risk of exposure to cyber-attacks, such as malware infection or unauthorized access to shipboard equipment has been increasing.

Shipboard equipment is classified into two major categories: “IT equipment” such as “information technology networks” is required for information communication, and “OT equipment”, such as “operational technology networks” is required for ship navigation and engine control.

Cybersecurity has three major principles: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The importance of each component differs between IT and OT equipment.

For IT equipment, it is important to protect “confidentiality” which ensures that only relevant personnel can access information, and to prevent information leakage. On the other hand, for OT equipment, it is important to protect “availability” which ensures that the system can operate continuously, and to maintain the continuous operation of the control system. Cyber-attacks can start with an IT element such as a communication network or USB media, and then intrude into the OT network to damage such as the voyage data recorder and the electronic chart system. As a result, charts and routes show wrong data; in the worst case, the navigation system can then be hijacked or control can be manipulated, leading to physical accidents.

In response to this increased risk of cybersecurity exposure to ships, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a resolution for shipowners and ship operators to ensure cybersecurity measures are implemented following the International Safety Code (ISM Code) within their Safety Management System (SMS) by the first annual document of compliance (DOC) audit after January 2021. In response, international classification societies are developing guidelines and standards. Thus, the implementation of security measures is becoming increasingly important throughout the industry.

MTI supports the enhancement of the NYK’s ship cybersecurity such as designing and developing ship cybersecurity response organization, introducing security tools, and researching the latest trends and information on global cybersecurity. For instance, to build a system for early detection and prevention of cyber threats, and for monitoring those threats integrated throughout the entire fleet, MTI has conducted a penetration test that simulates cyber-attacks to understand the shipboard threats properly. Also, MTI is cooperating to build a system that enables early response and recovery with related organizations in the event of an incident.

(Writer: Kana Wakaumi)


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