In the wake of a historically challenging year for cybersecurity professionals, the European Network and Information Security Agency has highlighted several key areas in need of improvement. This week, the European Union agency released a report detailing what analysts described as "low to non-existent" cybersecurity awareness in the maritime sector.
With 90 percent of the EU's external trade and more than 40 percent of internal trade taking place via maritime channels, officials insisted that comprehensive protection of the vital goods being trafficked must be treated as continental priority.
"Cyber threats are a growing menace, spreading to all industry sectors that rely on ICT systems. Recent deliberate disruptions of critical automation systems, such as Stuxnet, prove that cyberattacks have a significant impact on critical infrastructures," the report explained. "The need to ensure ICT robustness against cyberattacks is thus a key challenge at national and pan-European levels."
The road to enhanced data security begins with awareness, according to ENISA officials. While the sector was commended for its regulation of physical security, digital threats can no longer be ignored. As such, member states were encouraged to launch educational campaigns and bolster cybersecurity training frameworks within all shipping companies and port authorities to establish a more holistic defense strategy.
The realization of these noble goals will, however, require contributions and cooperation from a variety of sources. Due to the scope and complexity of maritime operations, technology contractors are being called upon to ensure airtight security in their system architecture.
"Due to the high ICT complexity, it is a major challenge to ensure adequate maritime cybersecurity," the report explained. "A common strategy, and the establishing of good practices for technology development and implementation of ICT systems would therefore ensure 'security by design' for all critical maritime ICT components."
ENISA officials also included careful recommendations for legislative bodies. The fragmentation of governance in the sector was highlighted as a significant source of vulnerability and the International Maritime Organization and EU Commission were called upon to lead the efforts to align policies within and across member states. These improved communications channels were also identified as key enablers of information sharing and comprehensive risk reduction.
Although global data security awareness is on the rise around the world, the EU has taken perhaps the most proactive stance of any regulatory body. From protecting consumer information against surreptitious online marketing efforts to aligning corporate data protection standards, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has provided the impetus for several significant campaigns that may revitalize and strengthen international cybersecurity.
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