Partnerships, Proactive Approach Needed to Close Port Cybersecurity Gaps

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The current global backlog of container ships waiting to be unloaded showcases the criticality of large ports to world commerce and national economies. This logjam will eventually be broken and things will go back to a relative normal. But what if a port becomes a conduit to a far more serious threat?

The safety and security of port operations is critical to both a nation’s economy and its sovereignty. Consider the impacts of the immense August 2020 explosion at the Port of Beirut, Lebanon. Tragically, more than 200 people were killed; the blast created massive toxic waste, destabilized the country’s shipping infrastructure, and damaged the cautious rebuilding of confidence in Lebanon as a secure port of operations for international trade and commerce.

Pipelines transporting essential resources are also inextricably tied to ports, as imports and exports on which economies depend move by ship. In just one recent incident, the May 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack shut down fuel distribution for most of the Eastern United States. The result was gas shortages and price spikes that lasted for months.

Given these recent glaring examples, it’s easy to see that government- and privately-owned port authorities, transportation agencies, regulators, and a multitude of private-sector industries that transit ports all have a vested interest in ensuring port safety. That compels a holistic approach to protecting port infrastructure, including its information technology. And that means protections against cyber threats.

Read the full article by Owl Cyber Defense’s Vice President of Global Business Development and Strategy, Tom Goodman.