Cyberattacks threaten major container ocean carriers, experts warn
 
THE top 15 top container carriers are at risk of significant and damaging cyberattacks, according to the head of a leading market intelligence provider and cybersecurity firm in the industry.
 
"We ran penetration tests and we could walk into all of them. So far, we have not found a system we couldn't get into," said Seaintel Consulting and Cyberkeel CEO Lars Jensen.

Speaking at the 15th annual TPM Conference in Long Beach, his view was shared by international trade attorney with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, Susan Kohn Ross.

It wasn't until recently that the maritime industry has started to come to terms with the significance of cybersecurity, Mr Jensen and Ms Ross said, and it's clear from their work that many still haven't, the Newark's Journal of Commerce reported.

"Just about every steamship company has a plan if their boat, ship or vessel is in the Suez Canal and gets blown up," Ms Ross said, but very few are prepared for a cyberattack.

In the first place, there's still a prevailing belief that cyberattacks are more frequent in Hollywood than Hamburg, Mr Jensen said. "But this isn't scaremongering," he said.

In 2011, the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines fell prey to a cyberattack. At the time, its 170-ship fleet was the largest in the Middle East, but the attack crashed their system and IRISL lost all of the data tracking its carriers.

A lot of cargo simply disappeared before the shipping line could re-establish service. "It's a good thing they were state-owned, because if this happened to a private company, this would very likely have put them out of business," Mr Jensen said.

It's not just shipping lines that are at risk. That same year, Mr Jensen said, drug traffickers recruited hackers to penetrate computers at the Port of Antwerp where smugglers were able to move goods through the port, then delete any evidence the cargo was there.

"Cybersecurity is not just an issue for your IT director," Ms Ross said.

Information technology employees are often trained to design and build programmes, but not necessarily protect them or know what hackers will target. Instead, Ms Ross said, cybersecurity needs to be addressed as a company-wide concern with direction taken straight from the top.

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