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Protecting Ships: The Threat of Hackers

The danger of cyber-attack on computers and networks has been recognised as a Tier 1 threat by the UK government in its 2010 National Security Strategy. As if to emphasise this risk, there are regular reports in the media of company networks being compromised and data stolen by criminals with a range of motivations including financial, ideological or just for the technical challenge.

Despite this danger, there is an increasing trend to integrate previously separate systems into single networks, which are then connected to the Internet, and this extends to the maritime environment. Although there are clear advantages to this policy, networked ships have unique security challenges, which are explained in this article with methods to
mitigate for them.

WHY SHIPS ARE NETWORKED

The practice of automating the control and management of ship systems is becoming increasingly common. Commercial providers are offering Integrated Platform Management Systems (IPMS) that oversee all aspects of a vessel’s propulsion plant and…

Adrian Venables, Cybersecurity Practitioner, Royal Naval Reservist and PhD Researcher, Lancaster University, UK

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