Cyber-security the weak link in unmanned ship concept: Transas

Frank Coles, ceo of Transas Frank Coles, ceo of Transas

Cyber-security is the weak link in the chain for communications technology being touted for the unmanned ship according to Transas boss Frank Coles.

Speaking at the Smart2Sea conference Coles said cyber-security is nothing more than smart IT procedures and process using certified equipment and that bridge equipment such as ECDIS and GMDSS had to be certified by class and pass through a significant list of regulations.

“The GMDSS network installation is highly regulated, the VSAT networks are not.  Neither Fleet Broadband or Iridium systems have any certification program, tied to the various regulatory bodies,” Coles ceo of Transas stated.

“Today’s modern ship to shore communications used for operations and being touted for unmanned ships contains no such regulations and as such is the weak link in the chain.  This is like allowing the office network operate without any controls over what is installed or used on the computers.”

With multiple hardware onboard such as the antenna, teleport and modem these multiplied the weaknesses in terms of security.

“While many may not like a closed system like Inmarsat, maybe it is the best option for securing and setting the standards for connectivity for security.  Without it we will likely not see a safe unmanned ship,” he explained.

However, when it comes to security Coles said that people were the biggest risk and the thumb drive was a “cyber missile” that could destroy systems in seconds.

Posted 02 February 2017

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Marcus Hand

Editor, Seatrade Maritime News