Autonomous shipping and cybercrime
- Seaborne transport is getting smarter every year. E-navigation, the Internet of Things, blockchain, autonomous navigation and artificial intelligence technologies are becoming more commonplace in the industry. On the one hand, they make life much easier, let save on crew and automate routine processes. For example, the blockchain allows for tracking cargo flows and for making transactions automatically. The Internet of Things allows for the automatic transfer of data on vessels and their components technical condition to the service department. The artificial intelligence and autonomous navigation make it possible to reduce the number of crewmembers or even do without it in the future.
However, all those developments have their downside. The ‘smarter’ the ship, the higher the risk of cybercrime against it. According to Dryad Global focused on shipping security, the number of cases of cyber attacks on seaborne transport has grown ten times over the recent five years and this number continues to grow.
The growth of cyber threats will - and already entails – tougher regulations by the IMO and national authorities and enhanced requirements on cyber security. In fact, control hack of an autonomous ship poses both business risks and also terrorist threats.
Evidently, companies operating ‘smart’ ships will have to establish departments specializing in such issues, or turn to third-party specialized companies. Eventually, savings on crews and managers engaged in routine procedures can be negated by the need to ensure digital security specialists. That does not mean that the trend towards digitalization of shipping will come to naught since digital technology develops and creates an ecosystem around which is not possible to enter without ‘smart’ technologies such as electronic navigation, automated data exchange between shore-based services and vessels, remote assessment of the technical state of vessel components and units, etc. However, it is important to be prepared for conveniences and economic advantages of the new technologies as well as to new issues and new costs.