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NSR: Maritime satcom buoyed by broadband demand despite COVID-19 impact

nsr may 7

Northern Sky Research (NSR) has published the 8th edition of its Maritime SATCOM Markets report that finds mixed impact to Maritime Satcom Markets in the near-term, a challenging middle period, yet optimism for longer-term sector health.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"} In 2019, there were a reported 24,000 VSAT-enabled vessels and over $2.8B in retail revenues, with expectations that 2020 would be another strong year. However, widespread economic shutdowns due to COVID-19, unprecedented pause to the cruise sector, and collapsing oil prices have caused significant near-term disruption. While ships continue to require crew, transport goods, and perform essential services, these bright spots cannot mask the near-term systemic risks.

“The Maritime sector is perhaps the ‘2nd worst’ impacted mobility market due to COVID-19,” said principal analyst and report author Brad Grady. “Unlike the Airline industry, which has largely parked their aircraft awaiting a ‘return to normal’, everything from cruise ships to merchant vessels remain “online” with crew or other shipboard-functions - even if their operational duties have slowed or vanished. The immediate effect is that 2020 bandwidth demand will see a 7 per cent increase over 2019 figures, even while In-service units and retail revenues decrease. as service providers launch or re-launch crew welfare-focused applications, cruise ships are re-tasked repatriating crew members, and all maritime end-users look at ways to safely operate in what is likely to become a ‘new normal’; the demand for connectivity will continue to increase on a per-vessel basis. What’s in question – how many vessels will be active over the next ten years?”

Amongst the five core maritime segments (merchant, passenger, offshore, fishing, leisure), the report states that offshore faces the longest road to revenue recovery – not matching 2019 retail revenues until 2027 as crude pricing challenges are met with a sharp decrease in petroleum demand.

Vessels are however adopting VSAT connectivity and higher bandwidth provisioning rates. Retail revenues yield a cumulative $34.5B with broadband connectivity accounting for over 80 per cent, capacity demand grows 24 per cent, and the addressable market will expand to over 500,000 vessels by 2029 – all signs that the long-term fundamentals remain strong. 

The full report can be accessed for a fee by clicking here

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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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