Plymouth to host maritime cyber security research facility

Plymouth to host maritime cyber security research facility

A new research facility designed to address the key cyber security challenges facing the shipping industry is being established at the University of Plymouth.

The £3m Cyber-SHIP Lab, supported by funding from Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation, and industry, will bring together a host of connected maritime systems currently found on an actual ship’s bridge.

Experts in cyber security and information systems will then assess them for weaknesses, and identify the human and technological changes needed to make them secure for the future.

The lab is being developed and delivered in partnership with key industry sectors including equipment manufacturers, solution developers, shipping and port operators, shipbuilders, classification agencies and insurance companies.

It will feature cutting edge maritime technology including radar equipment, a voyage data recorder (VDR), an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), an automatic identification system (AIS) and communications devices.

Professor Kevin Jones, executive dean for science and engineering, said: “The creation of the Cyber-SHIP Lab is a transformational step towards developing a national centre for research into maritime cyber-security. It will support a range of research and training that cannot be achieved with simulators alone, and also facilitate the development and delivery of new maritime cyber provision for graduates, postgraduates and industry.

“Cyber-attacks are a Tier1 national UK threat. But although the maritime sector is advancing technologically, it is not well protected against cyber or cyber-physical attacks and accidents. Worth trillions, it has an unmatched reach across international waters, which exposes people and goods to a diverse range of factors, putting the shipping industry at high risk. As such, this facility has never been more timely.”

The Cyber-SHIP Lab, which has been funded for three years with a view to it then becoming self-sustaining, will address a number of complex and interlinked issues affecting the maritime industry.

It will take into account both technological and human behavioural aspects in order to effectively mitigate threats, especially considering the huge variation in vessel types, which can be subjected to cyber-attacks in differing ways for differing motivations.

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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