Maritime cybersecurity follows a trend: larger companies are both more likely to be prepared for an event and more likely to be targeted. But a survey of senior maritime executives shows many medium and small companies are great risk of cyber attacks.

The survey, conducted by US-based law firm Jones Walker, polled 126 senior maritime executives from companies of varying sizes. While 70% said their sector was prepared to respond to cyber attacks, only half believe their own business is ready.

The importance of satellite networks and connectivity in the maritime market is expanding rapidly, and beyond crew welfare (think emailing home and surfing the web) to shipping optimization and real time diagnostics and troubleshooting of shipboard systems.

Small and mid-size companies are both largely unprepared to prevent a data breach (6% and 19% respectively), but also largely uninsured against the fallout from a breach at 92% and 69% lacking a fallback against losses from a breach. This risk isn’t imaginary — 80% of the large US maritime industry companies responded that they had been victims or attempted victims of a breach within the past year.

“The industry is not as prepared as it must be to prevent and address damaging cyber attacks. Industry stakeholders should apply their history of establishing successful safety programmes to cyber readiness planning.” The report said. “Company leaders can use this experience to apply a systematic and proactive approach to enhancing their cyber preparedness and data breach responsiveness.”

While the threat to maritime cybersecurity is real and growing, few companies surveyed have plans for cyber resiliency. The majority indicated they were unprepared to handle not only the technical aspects of an attack, but also the business, financial, regulatory and public relations impacts.

Uplogix for cyber resiliency

The far-flung nature of the maritime industry lends itself to a distributed solution like the Uplogix out-of-band platform. By deploying with the gear on the vessel and reliably and securely connected over and out-of-band network, Uplogix can be the emergency responder during an event. “Lock down” configurations can be triggered from the NOC and pushed locally by Uplogix to onboard devices making it easier to evaluation the issue and triage the problem. As issues are resolved, Uplogix can bring up network components from the most critical to less important services. All without having to bring vessels into port or sending out technicians. It’s more than cyber security — it’s cyber resiliency.