US Coast Guard Cities Cyber Security Exposures At U.S. Ports

The U.S. Coast Guard is warning that U.S. ports and marine terminals remain exposed to cyber attacks on a number of different fronts.

In a presentation to the Propeller Club of Northern California, Commander Boris Montatsky, who serves at the U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command as the Cyber Effects and Protection Division Chief, said there are six areas of risks at ports, marine terminals and on vessels:

Facility Access: A compromise “impacting physical access control systems can lead to supply chain delays and localized traffic congestion in the vicinity of a port.”

Terminal Headquarters/Data: Terminal & Gate Operating Systems (TOS/GOS) streamline the flow of cargo in a port. A compromise “to a port’s TOS/GOS data could result in leaks of sensitive supply chain data from port customers. Manipulation of TOS/GOS data could also be used for smuggling or cargo theft.”

Terminal Headquarters Ransomware: A ransomware attack affecting TOS/GOS systems “could make critical systems and data inaccessible. This could lead to a full stop of port operations, resulting in financial losses and supply chain disruptions. “

Operational Technology (OT) Systems: Maritime infrastructure relies on various OT systems to control pumps, cranes, and other industrial equipment: “The compromise of an OT system can cause safety issues and lead to loss of life or property. In addition, a compromise can disrupt facility operations. “

Positioning, Navigation, & Timing (PNT): PNT often supports many vessels within a port’s vicinity and is critical to maritime operations: “Loss of PNT can impede vessels’ ability to safely navigate a port, and lead to an increased risk of collisions and groundings. Any of these events can result in environmental damage, loss of life, property, or a disruption to safe navigation.”

Vessel: A compromise to shipboard systems “could impact a vessel’s ability to safely navigate and manage their cargo. A vessel compromise could also lead to disruption of shore-side systems, because lateral movement is possible through shared wireless or wired networks, portable media and other interconnections.”

Challengers Fighting Cyber Attacks

Captain Taylor Lam, Commander Sector San Francisco, provided an overview of issues facing the Coast Guard and the U.S. maritime industry: “We’re probably not where we need to be yet, but we have certainly made significant advances and strides in where we need to go…”

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