The maritime industry has also become increasingly reliant on operational technology over the last few years. Since national and international security relies heavily on the maritime industry, OT cybersecurity has become a pressing concern of maritime industrialists.

As the maritime industry continues to leverage the latest technological advancements such as IoT, IT/OT convergence, and cloud computing, it has become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Ports are certainly a lucrative target for cyberattacks since they encompass high-value financial transactions and the entrance and exit of huge quantities of goods.

OT Systems Challenges 

Previously, IT and OT were two separate technological domains. However, digitalization has converged the two paradigms to improve the efficacy of industrial systems. 

  • OT systems are now responsible for real-time performance; therefore, their access needs to be limited — with no compromise on human-machine interaction.
  • A slight disruption and downtime at the ports can lead to significant losses.
  • OT systems have long life cycles. Therefore, system updates should be preplanned and executed properly.
  • Because of limited storage capacities, the accumulation of security systems is quite challenging.

Cyber Threat Landscape at Port Environments

According to The Guidelines on Cybersecurity Onboard Ships, Version 3, cybersecurity primarily includes protecting OT, IT, data, disruption, manipulation, and unauthorized access. Cybersecurity also includes the protection of sensitive data and OT against loss of availability.

Here are a few cyber threats onboard;

  • The use of obsolete operating systems or expired antivirus software.
  • A weak malware protection system.
  • Poor segmentation of networks and boundary protection measures.
  • Unlimited access control for 3rd parties.

Best Practices to Navigate OT Cybersecurity in Port Environments

Effective management of cyber risks is a critical part of cybersecurity. Here are the best practices to ensure operational resilience in port environments.

Analyze Risk Exposure

The IMO guidelines emphasize a risk-based approach for cybersecurity management. Senior management needs to proactively assess the vulnerability of port OT environment to cyber risks and determine the likelihood of exploitation by internal or external cyber-criminals.

Identification of Threats and Vulnerabilities

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework suggests a 5 phase management plan for cybersecurity. The 5 phases mentioned in the context are “Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond and Recover.”

This step includes developing inventories available on the port or ship craft and identifying vulnerabilities to cyber threats. 

Protective Measures

After detecting and identifying threats, the senior management officials need to develop protective measures to prevent a cyberattack and establish a recognizable contingency plan. 

Respond and Recover

The contingency plan should suggest a complete recovery plan for the financial and data losses that might occur in case of a cyberattack. Implementation of the plan will guarantee operational continuity after an unexpected event.

Final Takeaway

Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is critical for the maritime industry and port environments. At Dexcent, We offer data industrial cybersecurity solutions to our clients at affordable prices. If you are looking for OT cybersecurity solutions, get in touch with our team and acquire cutting-edge technology solutions for all your industrial problems.