As Maersk gets back to work, shipping’s dire cyber security is laid bare

Maersk’s IT team worked throughout the weekend to get systems back on track for the company in the wake of last Tuesday’s cyber attack and today operations at Maersk Line and APM Terminals are largely back to normal. However, a report out yesterday warns global carriers are severely under prepared for any future attack.

Lars Jensen from maritime cyber security firm CyberKeel has carried out a survey among top carriers and port operators, the results of which he describes as “not encouraging” 44% of the carriers showing signs of low levels of cyber security related to very basic elements. As examples, a top 20 carrier allows shippers using their ecommerce platform to use ‘x’ as their password. A port terminal has a server running the access to their ecommerce tools which is so old that it can be readily taken over using tools one can download directly from the internet. A top five carrier claims that the password ‘12345’ is of ‘medium’ strength. 10% of carriers and 20% of the sampled ports and terminals have still not patched the vulnerabilities related to the Poodle and Heartbleed cyber threats which emerged more than 2½ years ago.

“Given the state of affairs in the industry at large, it is crucial that the maritime companies look at the Maersk case and learn from it and create more robust and resilient systems – otherwise this will not be the last time we see such challenges arise,” Jensen warned.

Maersk said in its most recent update that it expects a “more normalised state of business” from today, however it will take longer to restore all applications and workstations.

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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