The safety of ports against cyber attacks has been highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, pointing out that forthcoming regulations will encourage companies to implement more preventative measures. As important locations in the maritime supply chain, ports are attractive targets for criminals who want to gain information about containers and ships. Cyber attacks could compromise data integrity, impact world trade and, in some cases, take control of the port itself. Examples of attacks include the port of Lisbon in 2022 and the Port of Los Angeles, which has seen attacks double since the pandemic began.
The complex networks of private and public actors that exist within ports make port security a challenge, with many different types of companies involved, from terminal operators to logistics providers. To address this challenge, the European Union has adopted new cybersecurity regulations that include technical measures such as encryption, cyber risk assessments and due diligence. The regulations will apply to hundreds of large companies operating at Europe’s biggest ports from 2024, with non-compliance potentially resulting in fines. It is hoped these regulations will help secure the global supply chain of critical goods, particularly in the pharmaceutical, transport and energy sectors.
Given the important role that ports play in maintaining smooth world trade, protecting them against cyber attacks is essential. The consequences of disruption are significant and far-reaching, making it crucial to ensure that all actors within ports maintain good security hygiene to prevent attacks from succeeding. With forthcoming regulations and increased awareness, the hope is that ports will become more resilient against cyber attacks in the future.
In Canada, three major ports were paralysed by a DDoS attack on their websites, but port operations were not affected. Meanwhile, the Tokyo MOU’s inspection database was paralysed in July 2022, as it coordinates port state control inspections across the Pacific Rim, making it a key player. All these cases serve as evidence that ports are important targets for cyber attacks and securing them properly is vital for maintaining and protecting the global supply chain.