A string of leading shipping associations are developing guidelines to address the growing risk of cyber security. The protocols, established by the Round Table of International Shipping Associations (RT) will offer advice to companies on how to minimise the risk of a cyber-attack. It will offer guidance on how to protect on board systems, develop contingency plans and manage incidents. The associations have also made a submission to IMO outlining the steps to be taken by industry to address any vulnerabilities.
Comprised of BIMCO, ICS, Intercargo and INTERTANKO, the Round Table's actions follow numerous calls for IMO to act on the issue. The insurance industry also repeatedly lists cyber security as an area for concern.
"The standards under development are intended to enable equipment manufacturers, service personnel, yards, owners and operators, as well as crew, to ensure their shipboard computer based systems are managed securely and kept up-to-date to protect against the growing threat from exploitation by criminals," commented Angus Frew, secretary general of BIMCO.
The question of protection is wider than simply creating a firewall on a ship or installing virus scanning software on onboard computers. All of the major systems on modern vessels are controlled and monitored by software; from the main engine, steering and navigation systems, to the ballast water and cargo handling equipment. In response to this and in conjunction with the new cyber security guidelines, the Round Table (through BIMCO) and CIRM (Comité International Radio-Maritime) are also in the final phase of developing a standard for the maintenance of programmable electronic systems.