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The Maritime Industry Is Rethinking Cyber Security. We’re Here To Help

Maritime Cyber Security

Heyday Meets Cybercrime

Logistics companies run some of the most complicated physical systems on the planet. At sea, on land, and in the sky, globally and locally, they handle vast volumes of assets and data exchanges that involve thousands of players and moving pieces with a high level of interdependence. In other words, they run on the brink of chaos day in and day out, shaping lives and prosperity everywhere.

These businesses are adept at solving logistics challenges. But now, they are increasingly facing a new type of threat that most are struggling to address: Cybercrime. Amplified due to Covid-19, which dramatically increased the role of the maritime and logistics industry in helping people, nations and businesses to remain operational, the profile of this industry has reached unprecedented heights. Consequently, more and more shipping and logistics companies have entered the crosshairs of cyber criminals, with the result that cyber attacks have become a commonplace affair for the industry.

Maritime cyber attacks

Statistics based on Cyberstar research

To make matters more complicated, the globally distributed, constantly on the move, physical nature of these organizations makes the impact of a cyber-attack significantly harder to rebound from and cope with than it is for businesses in more centralized, digitally mature industries. A cyber attack on a logistics or maritime company cripples operations in a way that’s nearly impossible to reverse quickly, leading to massive disruptions, financial loss and clients’ suffering. 

Yet despite this, many maritime and logistics businesses have only recently started to recognize the importance of taking a more active approach to prepare their cyber security resilience. As a result, they’re stuck playing a sometimes-hasty catchup race. 

Conceptually, Prevention Is Dead. Long live Cyber Resiliency

As the maritime and logistics industry takes its first steps in building the cyber security teams, tools, and tactics necessary to address cybercrime, the collective focus has been on installing more and more technologies in the hope of preventing the next attack.

Tools are part of the solution, however they are not the whole solution. No amount of tools can guarantee that attacks will never happen. The ultimate goal of logistics and maritime companies, then, should be to shift their thinking at the business level. They must pivot from a mindset of, “How do I prevent the attack from happening?” to one of, “How do I make sure that ONCE the attack happens, my organization isn’t completely paralyzed?”

Put another way, the new paradigm is one of RESILIENCY: How do I build my business to survive and rebound back into operation DURING and AFTER an attack, as fast and as safely as possible? 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

Making this change starts with avoiding what has become a common trap for business leaders: Outsourcing accountability for cyber security to information technology and technical teams, some with the guidance of a CISO and others without, assuming the “cyber security job” is being taken care of.

It’s true, of course, that IT teams and cybersecurity practitioners play a key role in helping defend against and respond to cyberattacks. But they are only part of the equation. They offer technical solutions that are a means to an end. The end itself is business resiliency. Getting there requires focusing on cultural change, not just technical and strategic change.

How Is Cyberstar Positioned To Support Cyber Resiliency?

Helping businesses in the maritime and logistics industry to treat security as a cultural priority, while also optimizing their technical cyber security defenses, is the key focus of my team at Cyberstar. As a subsidiary of Zim, which has over 75 years of experience in the shipping industry, we know the unique business requirements of maritime companies as well as anyone. Our team also brings deep cyber security experience ‎‎‎ gleaned from Konfidas, an agency that has been specializing in proactive cyber security for more than a decade.

By helping businesses to address both the technical and the organizational dimensions of cyber security, we guide maritime companies in assuming full accountability for managing cyber threats. We know that just because cyber attacks will always happen doesn’t mean they have to be devastating. Businesses can ride out the storm of a breach, but only if their leaders make cyber security a priority, and don’t simply outsource it to engineers.

What We Do: Maritime and Logistics Cyber Security Consultancy

Cyberstar is different from your average cyber security consultancy in two main ways: Our business-centric cyber security philosophy, and our specialization in the maritime industry and its unique challenges.

In other words, you usually focus on securing your infrastructure , enforcing strong access controls, encrypting your data and so on. While these steps will help protect you from a technical perspective, they don’t protect you from a business perspective. When a breach actually occurs — which chances are that it will sooner or later because there is no such thing as a system immune to attacks — your business has no plan in place for managing communication between internal stakeholders and with customers. This in turn means that mitigating the damage, assessing the financial impact, or ensuring the continuity of business operations becomes impossible.

Real cyber security amounts to more than just planning technical defenses and responses. It requires collaboration between stakeholders from across the business, as well as drills that allow everyone to practice responding and recovering from a cyber security incident. From business leaders to operational teams, from finance to operations, from customer service to purchasing and everyone in-between – cybersecurity requires all hands on deck. And that’s precisely where Cyberstar consultants step in.

Cyber threats are not going away anytime soon. On the contrary, they are only increasing in frequency. At the same time, businesses’ ability to respond remains lackluster; according to IBM, it takes 280 days on average to discover and remediate a breach. 

What this means is that cybersecurity is not going to solve itself — especially not for businesses in the maritime industry, which, as I’ve noted, face unique challenges when it comes to cybersecurity.

Managing cyber security is a challenge in any industry today. But enabling defenses and best practices at both the technical level and the business level is even more difficult in the maritime industry. 

By leveraging an unusual combination of skill sets — cybersecurity and logistics — the Cyberstar team is prepared to help the maritime industry navigate the relentlessly expanding set of cybersecurity challenges it faces today. When you work with us, you’re working with a team that uniquely understands the needs of the maritime cybersecurity industry and has the experience to alleviate the cyber security risks.

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