US Coast Guard warns of more cyber attacks

The US Coast Guard is urging vessels to update their cyber security systems after a recent malware attack on a merchant ship en route to the US.

In February, a large ship bound for New York radioed the US Coast Guard warning that the vessel was “experiencing a significant cyber incident impacting their shipboard network”.

The coast guard led an incident-response team to investigate the issue and found that malware had infected the ships systems and significantly degraded functionality. Fortunately, essential systems for the control of the vessel were unimpeded.

This week the coast guard advised ship operators to create employee logins, segment networks, and to develop patches and install antivirus software to deter “foreign actors” from accessing ships.

“With engines that are controlled by mouse clicks, and growing reliance on electronic charting and navigation systems, protecting these systems with proper cybersecurity measures is as essential as controlling physical access to the ship or performing routine maintenance on traditional machinery,” the coast guard said.

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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