As Maersk gets back to work, international shipping bodies urge cyber caution

As the Maersk Group gets back to more normal working procedures in the wake of Tuesday’s giant cyber attack, a host of the world’s top shipping bodies have warned that the industry must be more on its guard as further sophisticated attacks are expected to proliferate.

“This week’s cyber attack is a wakeup call for the shipping industry and provides a graphic example of the potential impact of such attacks,” Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), told Splash.

ICS was an active participant in a cross-industry guidance, published in 2015, and which is soon to be updated.

“Companies are advised to give urgent attention to this generic guidance and to the bespoke advice that will be required to tailor the company’s individual defences,” Poulsson urged.

Bimco’s maritime security manager agreed with Poulsson, warning: “Everyone is susceptible. The fact that it happened to Maersk is very significant. Security awareness is vital for all employees.”

Intertanko’s marine director Dr Phillip Belcher revealed that Maersk was not alone in being hit by this week’s Petya cyber attack.

“The recent ransomware cyber attack called Petya has hit a number of shipping companies and port terminals quite hard – Maersk Line are the highest profile,” Belcher said.

In terms of advice, the Intertanko executive said: “When looking at systems, it is particularly important to look at legacy systems which may be exploited by criminals.”

Anne Steffensen, 
director general and CEO of Danish Shipping, commented: “Like other businesses, shipping is also a target, and even with high security standards, these hackers have the skills to attack and penetrate shipowners’ IT systems.”

Meanwhile, Maersk has revealed in its most recent update that it is getting closer to returning to full normal operations.

Maersk Line is now accepting online bookings via INTTRA, Electronic Data Interchange and a simplified online booking form. Online booking sites have also been set up for Maersk Line subsidiaries MCC, Safmarine, Seago and Sealand.

A small number of ports run by APM Terminals remain shuttered and many of its other ports are operating manually.

Maersk said it was still to early to give a timeline as to when normal business would be resumed.

In what has widely been seen as the week shipping woke up to the real threat of cyber attacks, Captain Kuba Szymanski, secretary general at shipmanagement association Intermanager, told Splash today that few shipping lines would have been able to have handled the online hit better than Maersk.

“I think it is very interesting to see how little notice we in shipping take when other industries are experiencing similar accidents and only panic when it affects one of ours,” he said, adding: “Maybe it is a wake up call for all of us. Maybe we should put the right hand on our hearts and ask ourselves a question – how would my company pull through this kind of crisis? Are we really prepared?”


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.
Back to top button