Maritime cyber-attack database unveiled

As cyber-attacks on ports become a growing concern, researchers at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences have launched the Maritime Cyber Attack Database (MCAD).

The MCAD is a database of incidents involving the worldwide maritime sector, and lists more than 160 incidents which demonstrate the relevance and vulnerabilities of cyber security across the board in today’s maritime industry, according to NHL Stenden Maritime IT security lecturer, Stephen McCombie.

The database not only includes incidents affecting ships, but also ports and other maritime facilities from around the world.

The research group expects that the database will help raise awareness of cyber security in the industry and provide data for further research and more accurate simulations in this critical area.

Peter Mulder, director of the ICT & Creative Technologies academy at NHL Stenden added: “The database is aimed at creating a safer world in which the Global Maritime Transportation System (GMTS) can respond to threats that will only increase in number and impact.”

“With this public database, we are raising awareness of cyber incidents in the maritime sector and creating opportunities for further investigation by our research group, led by Stephen McCombie and our partners.”

One of the anticipated applications of the database will be to develop simulations of maritime cyber incidents that are realistic and relevant, so that companies, organisations, and ports can prepare for attacks.

The research group will also use the MCAD to produce reports and research papers showing trends and results of detailed analysis on subsets of the data.

McCombie further commented: “The database is not a one-off but will be regularly updated and supplemented. For the first investigation, we searched manually, but now we are developing with artificial intelligence (AI) to automate the identification of new incidents from open sources and find out more details about already known incidents.”