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Maritime expertise required as industry specific applications fade out

Photo: Gary Howard Marlink-Posidonia-Stand-2.jpeg
Greater shipboard connectivity is reducing the need for maritime specific software packages that cater to a low bandwith environment.

As a result though the need for maritime expertise in shipboard connectivity is greater than ever, says Tore Morten Olsen, Marlink President Maritime and Managing Director.

Starlink and other low earth orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity solutions have brought greater bandwidth and reduced latency to maritime operations, removing the need for software packages optimised for the previous high-latency, low-bandwidth situation onboard.

But as the standard corporate software suites like Microsoft 365 extend their reach to better-connected vessels in the global fleet, maritime connectivity expertise is critical to ensuring the smooth adoption of the office-at-sea approach to onboard operations Olsen told Seatrade Maritime News.

“We're moving more and more towards the standard Microsoft application landscape that people are starting to use out there, with Teams and the Office Suite. I see less and less interest in maritime-specific applications. There are some considerations related to the fact that you may be at a lower [connection] speed for some period of time, you need to manage that, maybe with a local cloud setup.”

As demands in the connectivity space change, Marlink is positioning itself as a network integrator and digital partner to its clients, rather than a pure connectivity provider.

“Because it is about integrating different networks, and then ensuring that you help your client take advantage of the capabilities that that those networks bring, that's where we see a lot of interest,” said Olsen.

As ship connections become more varied and bandwidth increases, cyber security is more important than ever, he said.

“In the past, we could control all the traffic because it was going through our telephones, so we had a layer of control over the data and could provide the level of security needed. Now when you have 4G, 5G, LTE, Starlink, and more, they are connecting straight to the vessel. That is creating a completely new machine in terms of how we provide protection.

“That’s where the Unified Threat Management (UTM) and Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) become very, very important. We need to actually monitor traffic at the endpoints and detect threats.”

With 3,000 installations, Marlink is beginning to see patterns emerging in the way Starlink is used, where its strengths and weaknesses are, and the risks associated with its adoption.

“Now, we see that there are a lot of attempted attacks, and we stop a lot of attacks. When you suddenly have 50 megabit available on board, you become prone to that.”

Managing that risk through technical solutions and training of people onboard is important, said Olsen, especially as the rise of fast LTE connections and LEO bring new digital threats. Marlink offers a suite of cyber security services under its various CyberGuard modules, with threat detection and endpoint security, a Security Operations Centre (SOC), remediation and response services and more.

TAGS: Technology