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SAMI Brings Maritime Cyber Security Into Focus

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With the shipping industry wrestling with a range of maritime security issues, from piracy to stowaways, terrorists to smugglers, the last thing owners may wish to hear is about a new and growing threat.

Unfortunately, there can be no hiding from the reality of cyber security and the risks being faced onboard ships and within ports. The Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) is encouraging the industry to tackle the problems head on.

It was recently widely reported that research into key navigation systems, such as Global Positioning Satellite (GPS), Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), had revealed worrying weaknesses. The Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) seminar will bring together leading security experts, lawyers, insurers and vessel operators, to discuss cyber security threats to shipping, the possible responses and the real levels of danger posed – both practical and commercial.

The keynote speaker is Professor Sadie Creese of Oxford University, lead advisor to the UK Government on Cyber Security, and a leading academic at the forefront of research and development on our cyber future and the threats it will likely contain. With speakers confirmed from Intertanko, Holman Fenwick Willan, Templar Executives, Marsh and The Nautical Institute, the event will tackle this increasingly high profile problem from a unique new perspective.

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SAMI is looking to get the truth behind these cyber threats, to separate the reality from the myth, and to find the best ways of managing the issue.  There is a degree of scaremongering, and this needs to be countered, but there are also potential weaknesses, and these cannot be ignored.

SAMI CEO Peter Cook says, “From ports to shipowners, customs to shippers, each has a unique issue to deal with, and it seems pressure is now rising, and action is necessary – there can be no hiding away or shirking from the responsibility to act”.

According to SAMI, the only clear guidance as to the scale of the problem has come from the EU Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA). They issued their first EU report on maritime cyber security challenges, which recognised cyber threats as a growing menace that have a significant impact on critical infrastructures with potentially disastrous consequences. According to ENISA, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) robustness is a key challenge and the maritime domain suffers from similar problems as elsewhere.

The ENISA study found that awareness is currently “low, to non-existent”. They stressed there is a need for awareness raising and training, and there are some major challenges ahead. In their recommendations they stress that a common strategy and good practices are needed, and they wish to ensure “security by design” in the shipping industry. There is also a call for cyber issues to be treated and managed within existing maritime security rules and maritime governance.

The potential spread and scope of cyber threats to shipping are seemingly vast, but not yet fully understood. With so many different vessel types, carrying out so many different activities or lifting so many different cargoes – each would have its very unique threat and vulnerability profile. But each needs to be managed.

SAMI admits it has not been straightforward to get cyber security on the shipping industry agenda. One of the ways SAMI has sought to ensure better engagement with shipping has been to focus on existing business, legal, insurance and liability risks and transpose a cyber element onto them.

What of issues such as cargo claims, cover and liability? Is a ship which is riddled with computer viruses seaworthy? What can owners do to minimise the risks? How can crews be both a threat and a solution? It is clearly time to address this serious issue, and find a route forward to safeguard shipping and trade, and the seminar aims to act as a catalyst to open the debate further, and to encourage discussion to identify solutions.

The debate is set to challenge the current perceptions, as well as developing a united maritime approach to tackling cyber security threats. The “Seaworthiness & Cyber Security – The Hidden Threat to Shipping” Seminar is being held in London on the 23rd July 2014. Places are limited, so book now at

If you have any questions or to arrange an interview with key SAMI personnel, please contact Nadia Balta: Tel: +44 (0)207 788 9505. 


SAMI provides an international independent non-governmental organization for the maritime security industry and a focal point for global maritime security matters.

The SAMI membership is made up of international private maritime security companies from over 35 different nations, as well as equipment, technology and hardware providers exploring technical maritime security solutions.

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*Image credit:Flickr/Cliff

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