Hamburg Port Authority urges industry to focus on cybersecurity

Dusk in a part of the port of Hamburg called Burchard-dock (see the letters at the derricks)

The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) has urged the port industry to concentrate on cybersecurity as it looks to meet the challenges of the post-COVID-19 pandemic world at the annual meeting of International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH).

COVID-19 has accelerated the global digitalization trend and drives further investment in the modernization of port information technology infrastructures in order to remain competitive in the new reality.

Jens Meier, IAPH Vice President for the European Region and CEO of the HPA, said awareness of the threats of cyberattacks was paramount.

Meier said: “If we want to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalization, we must manage the cyber-risks involved and thus ensure digital trust. Protection starts with people. Regardless of the methods of attack – e-mail, cloud applications, web, or social media – attackers are increasingly taking advantage of the human factor.

“That’s why the approach to cybersecurity should be centered around people.”

Meier added: “Artificial intelligence is an extremely useful technology that enhances the intellectual abilities of people and that should be expanded and used where necessary. However, computers will not replace people. They are tools that will complement us.

“Remote working as a result of the pandemic is another contributory factor to a business’s vulnerability to cyberattacks.

Additionally, Santiago Garcia-Milà, President of the IAPH and Deputy Director of Port of Barcelona, attended the session and gave an overview of the various changes that have taken place in the organization since 2016.

Garcia-Milà pointed out that the three new Technical Committees implemented this year focus on members’ needs and strengthen the relationship with IMO.

Maritime transport is a crucial activity for the global economy. It enables the import and export of goods, the critical supply of energy, and transport of passengers and vehicles. Our global critical ecosystem relies on more than 1,200 seaports within the European Union alone.

Safeguarding operational assets from persistent threats while also maximizing efficiency, real-time intelligence, and system uptime is no small task. Control systems have become vital to ensure that our daily lives run smoothly, supplying power, running refineries, and also running medical, transportation, building control, and logistics technologies.

The exposure list is long, and stakes are growing higher. Businesses are clearly struggling to resolve cybersecurity vulnerability in control systems and operational technology (OT) environments.

This session addressed the actual cybersecurity risk with the targeted attack against the Port of Barcelona and broader aspects of cyber-resilience such as challenges and possible remediation from the leadership role perspective.

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