Industry publishes improved cyber guidelines

By Lars Lange, IUMI Secretary General

The third edition of the industry “Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships” was published in December 2018 and addresses the requirement to incorporate cyber risks in the ship’s safety management system (SMS) as decided by IMO. It also reflects a deeper involvement with risk assessments of operational technology (OT) - such as navigational systems and engine controls - and provides more guidance for dealing with the cyber risks to the ship arising from parties in the supply chain. The third edition was prepared by a cyber security working group with members from BIMCO, InterManager, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO, ICS, IUMI, OCIMF and WSC. The new guidelines are the third edition in as many years, which reflects the constantly evolving nature of the risks and challenges.

“The industry will soon be under the obligation to incorporate measures to deal with cyber risks in the ship’s safety management system. This had not been tackled in the previous versions,” said Dirk Fry, chair of the cyber security working group and Director of Columbia Ship Management Ltd.

“The third edition provides additional information which should help shipping companies carry out proper risk assessments and include measures in their safety management systems to protect ships from cyber-incidents. A new dedicated annex provides measures that all companies should consider implementing to address cyber risk management in an approved SMS,” Fry added.

A second key expansion in the guidelines is around operational technology. Ships have more and more OT which is integrated with information technology (IT) and which can be connected to the internet, but the risks associated with OT are different from IT systems. For example, malfunctioning IT may cause significant delay of a ship’s unloading or clearance, but with malfunctioning or inoperative OT there can be a real risk of harm to people, the ship or the marine environment.

Another new element in the guidelines is a number of examples of actual incidents to demonstrate some of the real-world situations shipowners and operators face. The examples have been anonymised.

A third new focus area is the risk of malware infecting the ship’s systems via the many parties associated with the operation of a ship and its systems. Advice includes evaluating the security of service providers, defining a minimum set of requirements to manage supply chain or third-party risks and making sure that agreements on cyber risks are formal and written. The guidelines also underline the need for ships to be able to disconnect quickly and effectively from shore-based networks, where required.