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Cyberattacks Add New Woes to Global Shipping Industry

  • Ransomware attacks hit International Maritime Organization and shipping giant CMA CGM SA
  • Attacks come as global shipping industry struggles to address humanitarian issues and heightened safety risks during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • IMO has put more focus on cybersecurity after other attacks in recent years

Cyberattacks on a global shipping regulatory authority and the world’s fourth largest container shipping line are putting renewed focus on the need for better cybersecurity in the industry. The attacks also come as global shipping companies grapple with what the United Nations has described as a humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of sailors stranded on vessels around the world.

The International Maritime Organization said its IT systems were targeted by a cyberattack, affecting its website and internal systems. The shipping company CMA CGM SA was also recently targeted in a ransomware attack.

The incidents put renewed focus on the need for improved cybersecurity in the shipping industry, which can prove particularly vulnerable to ransomware since attacks can result in lucrative payouts from shipping companies. In 2017, a malware attack on Maersk required the company to rebuild its IT network, costing it millions and having a reciprocating effect on the world economy.

The IMO has set a series of regulations requiring companies to improve their cybersecurity systems by the end of the year. The rules seek to harden companies’ shore facilities as well as the systems aboard each of their ships against cyberattacks.

Mounting stress and fatigue among sailors stranded aboard vessels has led to an increase in shipping incidents during the pandemic and concerns of supply chain disruptions. The industry has also been under pressure to improve its safety, sustainability, and the diversity of its crews.

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