Are we all agreed on how to fight cybercrime?

According to recent analysis by Willis Group of 49 maritime transport companies’ 2014 annual reports, just 22% identified cybercrime as a potential risk.

This is a huge mistake. Shipping has yet to grasp the severity that cybercrime poses.

To give you an idea of the scale of the scourge, the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) published a recent report in which it estimated online crime now equates to 0.8% of global GDP, similar to the provisions that macro-economists make for the annual cost of standard business crimes.

At October’s Danish Maritime Forum cyber risks were discussed in a breakout session on maritime security. Part of the problem with defeating cybercrime is that companies are unwilling to share their problems.

“On the cyber side this industry is not just an unlocked door, it is leaving it wide open,” commented a Danish national who runs a counter cybercrime firm.

The head of an African nation’s maritime authority called for the International Maritime Organization to come up with some form of cyber security information sharing regulations.

“Trust and information sharing will never happen between companies because they are competitors,” stressed the head of a leading Middle Eastern chemical tanker company. His solution was to get the various shipping associations to handle this, a view many attending the debate agreed on. Another shipowner suggested it was up to flag states to take the lead.

Just about all present were in agreement that the best way to fight cybercrime was together – an illustrator on hand picturing it as an umbrella to fight the crime storm.

The most recent poll carried by Maritime CEO shows that fully 88% of readers believe shipping lines should be sharing more information about cybercrime attacks.

“Far more transparency and overall data collection is needed. The industry is just out of date. They live by hiding the facts,” one respondent commented.

“Just like maritime accident reporting and piracy/armed robbery at sea incidents, shipping generally reluctant to air their dirty laundry by sharing information on what may be perceived as an issue that may lead to insurance premium rises or failing to be covered by insurance due to training or personnel mistakes. Unfortunately, transparency remains a problem within the shipping world,” argued another reader.

This editor’s comment featured in the just published issue of Maritime CEO magazine. Readers can access the full magazine online for free by clicking here.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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