Cyber Attacks a Threat to Ocean Cargo Shipping

International Cargo Shipping and Cyber Attacks cargo shipping and cyber attacks

International ocean cargo shipping faces a lot of challenges such as piracy but none of these is anywhere close to cyber security challenges. Container carriers have been in constant risk of serious cyber attacks after tests ascertained that lots of top ocean cargo carriers stand extremely vulnerable.

Are cargo shippers at risk of phishing?

One of the cyber attacks cargo shippers are vulnerable to is phishing, allowing all kinds of hackers to access some of the core data global shippers handle with extreme care. Beyond carriers, cyber attacks also affect many others within the ocean cargo shipping world. For instance, hackers can easily target shippers, ports and terminals as well as freight forwarders.

Currently, most of the ports across the United States do not have the kind of platform that can sufficiently guarantee cyber security. One of the reasons for this includes industry professionals’ apathy towards dealing with attacks from the internet, especially due to the fact that an immediate indication of cyber attacks on them is absent.

Cyber hacking is real

Cyber attack on ocean cargo shipping is real. A couple of years ago it was believed that military hackers in China had brought about serious cyber attacks against a US Department of Defence vessel, which was a commercial carrier contracted by the US government. Since governments across the divide use commercial shippers to carry extremely sensitive cargo, cyber attacks carried out against them could end up impacting the entire economy of a country, including the military.

Information exchange

A Cyber attack exposure to ocean cargo shipping is real due to the need to exchange as much information as possible across all kinds of platforms. For instance, the shipment of one container usually involves information exchange among diverse stakeholders such as the port of origin, shipping line, port of destination, shipper, custom authorities, consignee, and truck companies, banks and data portal liaison, among others. All these stakeholders maintain their own back-end data systems with diverse levels of cyber attacks protection. As a result, the information is always detailed, a lot and of great value to all kinds of terrorists and criminals in case it was accessed.

Monetary transfers

At the same time, large funds are transferred among various players within the supply chain and this always attracts criminals. Normally, this might be payments to shipping lines, vessel owners, shipyards and bunker companies including freight payments to vessel owners and liners from shippers. Lots of shippers mostly involved in the operation and monetary chain are spread throughout major time zones and nations around the world.

It means these parties are always acting asynchronously without really engaging in conversations in real time. As a result, duplicity in the process can take a lot of time to find out and deal with, which could see millions of funds lost in the process, including cargo and sensitive information.

In case cyber security of ocean cargo supply chain was compromised, the disruption that would result will affects huge segments of any economy and even halt the operations of various supply chains at the same time.


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