High Seas and High Stakes Communications: Securing the Maritime Industry

Think back to the last time you stood on the shore, enjoying the brackish breeze gently caressing your skin, and the sounds and smells of the sea. You may have noticed a tall ship in the distance. Have you ever thought about all the moving parts that contribute to these “floating cities”? Beyond the logistics of going to sea, a ship contains an impressive array of communications devices and capabilities. Whether that ship is in port or 500 miles from shore, the ship is never without communication.

So many moving parts

There are often over 150,000 ships at sea in a 24 hour period. To add some perspective, that’s three times the average number of planes tracked by the Federal Aviation Administration on any given day. When combined, all ships at sea form one of the largest mobile communication networks imaginable. As is often the case with a security mindset, this level of complexity creates great challenges.

A ship is capable of short-range ship-to-shore communication through the use of traditional land-based radio or shore stations, and when far out at sea satellite communication is used. To add to the complexity, there are more than ten satellite companies that provide maritime communication services. The international scope of maritime communications is governed both by multinational organizations and by advisory organizations such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The New Cannonball Vulnerability

It’s easy to think that these impenetrable shells are immune to security issues. After all, they look a bit like an isolated island, far removed from our landlocked security concerns. However, maritime vessels are under threat, both physical and virtual. In the event that physical criminals increase their technological skills, the results for a fleet could (Read more…)