Securing Future Ports with Multi-Level Cyber Security



Chad Mercer, Vice President, Information Assurance, Rajant Corporation, Malvern, US


With about 90% of world trade carried by the international shipping industry. Ports are vital to the flow of commodities and capital worldwide. Terrorism that interrupts the flow of goods may have a severe effect on the global economy. When the US government shut down US seaports and airports in response to the events of 9/11, container shipping lost a billion US dollars a day during the months spent disentangling freight traffic. Robust port security is one way in which to safeguard global trade.

What is the best security strategy for a particular port? The answer is complex because port information networks have evolved significantly over time as new technologies have emerged. Operations have been added or modified to address customer and tenant requirements, and cyber threats continually increase in number and sophistication. This paper examines one security strategy for IT networks and the challenge of how to deter intruders while protecting people and assets.

Typically, ports use a massive network of technologies ‒ some of which were not designed with the sophistication needed to safeguard them from today’s hackers, criminals and terrorists. As a result, port security is often limited by outdated, diverse systems with limited ability to expand to reach the scale and mobility needed to create a truly connected, secure port.

While many ports have implemented layered security systems using devices such as fences, cameras, sensors, access control, CCTV, radar, and patrols, they still may be lacking the robust network security needed to adequately protect data and communications.

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