Marine cybersecurity is critical to maritime safety

Nearly one year ago, the president issued an executive order entitled Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. This executive order clearly states that the policy of the U.S. government is to increase the sharing of information related to cyber threats with the private sector. In sharing this information, the government hopes to empower the private sector to better protect itself against cyber threats.

It is critical that marine employers take advantage of the efforts that the federal government has made in response to this particular executive order. Not only do cybersecurity threats pose hazards to general data intrusion, certain threats can prove to be truly hazardous to maintaining maritime safety.

For example, if a certain cybersecurity threat was launched against a vessel and that vessel’s systems were not prepared to contain and repel the threat, the intrusion could dramatically impact the functioning of any affected system. Given that an increasingly substantial number of operations are contained within on-board electronics, compromise could be hazardous not only to general vessel operations but also to occupants of the vessel.

Any marine vessel operators whose systems could be compromised in a cybersecurity attack should consult the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s new Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework, which is available on this organization’s website. It will give you a frame of reference concerning how you can begin to mitigate the risks of such intrusions. It will also help you understand some of the unique risks that this hazard poses and will help you understand how to make this issue a priority within your operations.

Source:, “Marine Cybersecurity: Is Your Ship Safe? Are You Sure?” Dennis L. Bryant, Jan. 2, 2014


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