Umbrella tactics to fight cyber crime

A problem for a journalist attending this week’s Danish Maritime Forum is the insistence on Chatham House rules, where what is stated here in Copenhagen cannot be quoted directly.

Anyway, I will attempt to give you, the reader, a glimpse of the future of maritime security, which was one of the small, breakout briefing sessions held this morning.

A retired British admiral who is now a leading voice in seeking solutions for piracy set the scene suggesting ships 15 years from now will face spikes in criminality, wars that will spill into the maritime domain, more severe weather, cyber attacks and a Russian dominated Arctic shipping channel. Noting that it took five years and 838 imprisoned seafarers before the first naval ship was deployed to the Horn of Africa, the retired admiral said policy workers need to work faster, especially right now with regards to the Mediterranean migrant crisis. Not only do they need to react faster, he said, they need to sustain their response.

Cyber risks on increasingly sophisticated, intelligent ships formed the plank of debate at the session. Part of the problem with defeating this growing scourge 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. This view was immediately attacked by a spokesperson for a leading shipowning association, who said his association had been looking into cybercrime for the last two years and is pushing for its members to agree to anonymised information sharing.

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 cyber crime was together – an illustrator on hand picturing it as an umbrella (pictured) to fight the crime storm. Just how we share this remained a little less certain.

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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