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DCSA publishes implementation guide for IMO cybersecurity mandate

The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), a neutral, non-profit group established to further digitalisation of container shipping through technology standards, in conjunction with its nine member carriers, has published the DCSA cybersecurity implementation guide. The guide aims to facilitate vessel readiness for the IMO Resolution MSC.428(98) on Maritime Cyber Risk Management in Safety Management Systems.

The best practices outlined by DCSA provide all shipping companies with a common language and a manageable, task-based approach for meeting the IMO’s January 2021 implementation timeframe.

The DCSA cybersecurity guide, DCSA Implementation Guide for Cyber Security on Vessels, can be freely downloaded from the DCSA website. The guide aligns with existing BIMCO and NIST (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) cyber risk management frameworks, enabling shipowners to effectively incorporate cyber risk management into their existing Safety Management Systems (SMS). The DCSA guide gives shipowners the tools they need to help designated technical crew members mitigate the risk of cyber attack, or contain damage (fail safe) and recover in the event of an attack.

“As shipping catches up with other industries such as banking and telco in terms of digitisation, the need for cyber risk management becomes an imperative,” said Thomas Bagge, CEO, DCSA. “Due to the global economic dependence on shipping and the complex interconnectedness of shipping logistics, cyber attacks such as malware, denial of service, and system hacks can not only disrupt one carrier’s revenue stream, they can have a significant impact on the global economy. As a neutral digital standards organisation, DCSA is uniquely positioned to help vessel owners mitigate the increasing risk of cyberattack on their ships, and in turn, on the industry at large.”

The DCSA cybersecurity implementation guide breaks down the BIMCO framework into themes and maps these themes to the controls that underpin the NIST functional elements: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover. DCSA provides non-technical explanations and specific actions to be taken to address each NIST element in accordance with a company’s level of cyber maturity within each BIMCO theme. Following DCSA guidance will provide vessel owners with a catalogue of cyber security safeguards aligned with each vulnerability identified during risk assessment, together with notes explaining any residual risk.

Jakob Larsen, head of maritime safety & security for BIMCO said, “The DCSA implementation guidance provides a thorough and refreshing deep dive into the challenge of how to implement cyber risk management in a shipowner company. Initially thought of as a tool for container carriers, the guidance can also inspire the thinking in other shipping sectors as well as the ongoing update of the major shipping associations’ benchmark document ‘Guidelines on Cyber Risk Management Onboard Ships’.”

Related items

  • We hacked a ship. The owner is liable.

    Author: Ewan Robinson, director of maritime communications and solutions provider Yangosat. 

    We hacked a ship. The Owner is Liable.

    Well, we hacked the communications system of the ship. Technically we have been doing this for a few years.

    This time we did it like a “bad guy” would.

    We got into the vessel, belonging to a multinational company, and found out everything possible about the system, the setup, the manufacturers information.

    This is a very specialised vessel that was alongside in the capitol city of a major European country, carrying out cargo discharge.

    We could have broken the system so badly, the vessel would have been back to Sat-C and flag signals.

    Any information going through that satcomm would have been able to be collected, checked and used.

    As we are Ethical Hackers, we are obliged to act in certain ways. One of them is that we have to tell everyone involved if we did something during testing.

    We did. Well, we tried to.

    The Owners operators, when we finally managed to get someone in the overworked operations department to listen, didn’t care and ignored us.

    The manufacturers didn’t even bother to respond.

    All of the test was documented, peer reviewed and otherwise substantiated by trusted persons.

    The lawyers are going to have a field day and be very happy.

    Ship owners are not.

    Owners and operators are being badly supported and advised by these super providers, who use third party engineers, or poorly trained engineers, and leave systems in an exposed state. Equipment manufacturers and developers are so guilty of poor techniques and security that using “industry best practice” is a total contradiction.

    Lawyers, P&I and Class are going to be so busy refusing claims in the event of a cyber incident, that the poor owners are not going to know where to turn.

    Owners are forced into accepting sub-standard equipment. This equipment cannot be made secure in its current format, and yet the manufacturers and developers, fail to update and secure them.

    The providers supply this equipment, along with the bandwidth and engineers who install them, and then incorrectly configure and allow public access to them. The Owner is still liable.

    So how were they failed?

    We have been presenting at various conferences over the last few years, highlighting how exposed we are as an industry to ‘hackers’ and bad actors.

    It normally consisted of a prepared victim vessel, using a system that had been poorly configured by the provider, or the providers appointed/trained engineer, and accessing the equipment onboard, normally the antenna or satcomm system. It’s a quick way to display to an audience just how much we are ‘displaying publicly’.

    recently someone asked “what could someone actually do?”

    A relevant question we thought, so we tested to see what we could actually do.

    As a basic attack, an intruder could lock out all the users from accessing the equipment. They could turn off the satcom, or prevent systems and users onboard gaining access to the internet or to systems onshore or stop onshore reaching the vessel.

    OK, so this is annoying and disruptive, costing from a few hundreds to several tens or hundreds  of thousands if the charterer deems “off hire” status due to lack of communications.

    Well, that’s quite expensive, potentially.

    But what can we learn from the systems we can get at?

    A lot.

    Given the amount of systems that are exposed to the internet, with poor configuration, it is relatively easy to find a ‘victim’, and to maximise the information gained by using the tools available and exposed by the simplest of mistakes.

    Default admin passwords.

    There is a need for it, but no excuse for it.

     Service Providers, who manage several thousands of vessels, still use engineers who leave default admin usernames and passwords.

     So, it’s a fault on one vessel, but it cant really hurt can it?

    It can. And it does.

     Our target vessel was found.

    That took 7 minutes to locate.

    It belonged to a very large multinational corporation. The default username and password was still in effect on the VSAT system.

    Access was made to the administration area, so all usernames and passwords could be changed. Also available was access to the system by FTP. Even if this had not already been enabled, as we were in the Admin area, we could have enabled it.

     This is where major security flaw #1 was found. The FTP access gave access to the entire operating system of the device, not just the FTP area.

    Major security flaw #2 was putting a text file in every folder with a map of the entire structure of the operating system.

    This allowed for finding and copying the ‘hidden’ password file to our local machine. It was actually encrypted.

     2 hours later, it wasn’t.

    So now we had all the manufacturers usernames and passwords.

     Now we can access the publicly available machines where they have changed the default admin username and password, by using the manufacturers. They have these so the engineers can always get in. Great for business and support, not so for security.

     The network connections listed in the antenna setup were then investigated.

     The VSAT Modem was accessed, again using default connections on SSH, with publicly available usernames and passwords.

    Command line access to the modem was achieved, allowing us to take control and alter the configuration. In effect we could now control the communications in 2 different places.

     Such systemic failures, at the developmental and operational level, are going to have huge issues when Cyber 2021 comes into force next year.

    Class and P&I will be left wondering who to refuse claims and who to sue for negligence when there are events, while the operators are trusting the providers to implement correctly, and the manufacturers and developers are failing at such basic levels, they will likely be left with the legal responsibility in the first instance.

    The lesson of life in todays marine communications environment?

    Don’t trust what’s being given to you.

    Unless you have had your own trusted IT check what’s gone before, why would you blindly trust a stranger with your vessels now?

    The Owner is Liable.

    Yangosat is a maritime communications and solutions provider, helping shipowners and providers realise new systems and invigorate existing ones. This article has been reproduced with the author's permission. 

     

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    The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) has announced a push for the use of electronic bills of lading (eBL) and made a call for collaboration as it estimates a potential $4bn could be saved per annum at a 50 per cent adoption rate by the container shipping industry.

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  • Cybersecurity start-up secures £1.8m in new funding

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    From left to right: David Baker, Mercia, with Daniel Ng and Ken Woghiren, CyberOwl.

    Cybersecurity start-up CyberOwl has secured £1.8 million in funding to help develop its cybersecurity solution for the shipping and maritime industries.

  • CYSEC helps ESA to protect ship tracking communications from cyber-attack

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    CYSEC, a cybersecurity company from Switzerland, has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a solution mitigating the cyber risks related to ship tracking using satellite communications.

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