How Cyber Drills Can Save Your Maritime Operation

Maritime cyber drills

Athletes don’t start running cross-country marathons, without months of training first. Army units don’t go into battle without doing endless training and simulations to prepare for every foreseeable incident. This is pretty standard practice. 

So following the relentless barrage of cyber attacks, it makes sense that maritime and logistics companies are turning to cybersecurity drills in their quest for cyber resilience. 

Companies operating in the ecosystem refuse to be sitting ducks any longer. While these cyberattacks may form the new normal and are almost inevitable, cybersecurity drills are a crucial step to building a company’s resilience. This gives them the ability not only to bounce back after an event, but to operate at some level during a cyber incident.

What are cybersecurity drills? 

Effective cyber security amounts to more than just planning technical defenses and responses. It requires drills that allow everyone in the organization, including customer service, operations, finance, legal, and corporate management, to practice responding and recovering from a cyber security incident. Cyber security drills have been proven to be hands down the best tool that maritime businesses have for minimizing the fallout from cyber security incidents.

While businesses in this industry do invest in cyber security, the investments tend to take the form of technological cyber defenses, rather than cross-organizational response planning, which has infinitely more potential in the long run. Research shows that organizations that test their cyber response plans save on average $2 million, versus those that do not complete any form of testing. Response planning in the form of cyber drills has the advantage of giving businesses the opportunity to actively practice how they will handle any incident in ‘real time’. These drills ensure that your teams’ response and recovery procedures are as watertight as possible.

Benefits of cyber drills

Cyber drills, or simulations have several significant benefits. They ensure that businesses can:

  1. Reality check: Demonstrate to what extent the business is actually prepared to handle a cyber attack.
  2. Organizational process: Develop “muscle memory” for managing teams and organizational processes during an attack response.
  3. Gap analysis: Find gaps in the current response plans and business continuity programs, and then address  them before a real-world attack occurs.
  4. Roles and responsibilities: Ensure that roles and responsibilities are properly defined within response plans by assessing whether each stakeholder is assigned the right responsibilities.
  5. The unknown: Uncover gaps, or discover the “unknown unknowns” about cyber response that you may not otherwise anticipate until an attack is underway.

To learn how cyber drills can benefit your business contact us today.

Why are maritime and logistics more vulnerable to cyber attacks?

Compared to many other industries, the maritime and logistics industries tend to be especially underprepared when it comes to managing cyber risks, according to the law firm Jones Walker LLP. This is slowly changing as the shipping and logistics industry is digitizing their systems at faster and faster rates today, due in part to the pressures of the pandemic.

The digitalization trend confers many benefits. But it also creates new problems. Above all, in a world awash with cybercriminals and scammers, shipping companies that have digitized their operations are at higher risk of cyber attack. It becomes much easier for motivated cybercriminals to break into systems remotely and wreak havoc when those systems are connected to the Internet, as compared to analog technologies.

At the moment, many maritime businesses remain especially vulnerable to situations where they are unsure of how to deal with the fallout of an attack — mainly from an operational perspective. There has been a spate of recent attacks including one on South Korea’s HMM and Japan’s K-line which clearly illustrates that the industry is not as prepared as it could be, when companies as well established as these can fall victim to attack. These attacks are not limited to shipping companies, but also target the ports themselves, as was recently seen in South Africa. The industry simply isn’t ready to contain attacks or protect their operations in the midst of a cyber security breach.

Cyber drills: Food for thought

When businesses don’t understand the scope of the risks they face, the ability to run maritime cyber security drills in order to walk through a simulated attack scenario becomes all the more important. 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. 

Achieving cyber resiliency begins by developing and practicing your response plan. The plan should define how your company will react when a cyberattack takes place. It lays out the steps required to restore normal operations, as well as to protect your brand. 

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In short, business resilience over defense.  You can’t fully protect a maritime or logistics business against cyber security threats unless you are prepared to respond effectively and efficiently to breaches when they take place. Investing in cyber security defenses alone is only half the battle. The best-prepared maritime businesses are those with trained teams who  know exactly which steps they’ll take to recover quickly from an attack — and that have vetted those steps by performing cyber security drills. 

With our years of experience in the maritime cyber security industry, we are best equipped to develop and run such drills. Our extensive experience comes from training multiple teams in the shipping industry – if you would like to hear more about how we can help your company build its resilience please contact us. 

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