A satellite communications specialist has warned that cyber hygiene is as important for the shipping industry as cyber security.

IEC Telecom said that the biggest threat to cyber security for the majority of vessels at sea is the hapless downloading of a virus by staff members not following proper procedures.

“Too many companies treat digital security as an after-thought and do not have suitable policies and procedures in place,” warned Nabil Ben Soussia, vice president of maritime at IEC Telecom. “There is a lack of awareness of how one silly slip-up, like downloading a virus from the internet or a memory stick, can destroy your working environment.”

Maritime sector firms need to adapt their methods of working to encompass cyber issues, he advised. “They need to redefine their rules to take account of cyber security. The tools are there to protect their data and equipment but they need to take responsibility and manage the risks,” he said.

Explaining how to enable crew to access online services safely, he said: “You need to secure critical systems in a closed network with limited and protected access from certain terminals only, strictly implement proper policies and properly train crew.”

By Rebecca Jeffrey