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University of Plymouth recognised for work on maritime cybersecurity

Dr Kimberly Tam, lecturer in cybersecurity at the University of Plymouth and academic lead on the MaCRA project Dr Kimberly Tam, lecturer in cybersecurity at the University of Plymouth and academic lead on the MaCRA project

The University of Plymouth has been recognised for its work in developing software to protect the maritime industry against cybercrime. 

Researchers at the University won a competition run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) for its piece of software designed to identify the specific cyber threats facing ships, which also has the ability to expand into ports and other sectors.

The Maritime Cyber Risk Assessment (MaCRA) framework was developed by researchers from the University of Plymouth’s Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group.

It identifies the specific risks likely to be encountered by particular vessels on trade routes all over the world, enabling international shipping operators and insurers to rapidly assess individual ships or entire fleets’ cyber risk profiles.

The software was among entrants from across the UK in a Cyber Den competition run as part of the UK government’s flagship cybersecurity event, CYBERUK, on May 11 and 12, 2021.

Researchers will now receive assistance from the NCSC in assessing, developing and piloting their product or service. This may include consultancy on the technology and potentially working with a government department on further testing.

In addition, Dr Kimberly Tam from the University of Plymouth won this year’s Lloyd’s Science of Risk prize, which recognises the scientific work done by academics and PhD students to further understand risk and insurance. This year there were three categories: cyber, climate change and pandemics.

Dr Tam’s research titled ‘MaCRA: a model-based framework for maritime cyber-risk assessment,’ paper proposes a dynamic risk assessment model that uniquely takes into account both information technology and operational technology, both of which are prevalent in sectors like transportation and critical national infrastructure. This research was entered into the cyber category and chosen as the overall winner of the competition.

Dr Tam, lecturer in cybersecurity at the University of Plymouth and academic lead on the MaCRA project, said: "We are thrilled with the opportunities our win in the Cyber Den will bring as we finesse MaCRA's adaptive maritime cyber risk assessment capabilities.

"We are also grateful to the CyberASAP team for equipping us and other great teams to deliver Dragons' Den-style pitches, and to the judges, especially for the most valuable aspect of our win: a year's mentoring with NCSC experts.”

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