Shipping Policy

As technology gradually permeates all sectors of the economy, the shipping industry is becoming more dependent on it. But this dependence makes shipping companies more vulnerable.

Cyberattacks present an escalating danger to the safety of ships and crew. In 2017, malware attacks cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars. In an increasingly connected world, protecting digital information and technology systems has therefore become a priority. For the nascent segment of autonomous shipping, cyber resilience is paramount. While still in its infancy, this area warrants careful consideration of risks and vulnerabilities so as to ensure the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of autonomous ships.

Convinced of the need to protect itself against the growing threat posed by cyberattacks, the shipping industry was instrumental in the shaping of the 2017 IMO Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management, which can be incorporated into existing risk management processes and are complementary to the safety and security management practices already developed by the IMO, as well as to the Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships, developed jointly by industry organizations, such as the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and BIMCO. A resolution on Maritime Cyber Risk Management in Safety Management Systems was also adopted by IMO in 2017, encouraging administrations to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems (as defined in the ISM Code) starting from 1/1/2021. Thus, initiatives, such as the USA government’s recent plans to introduce cyber security legislation is worrying as it would unilaterally affect all vessels entering USA waters. The UGS remains an ardent supporter of non-mandatory global initiatives, such as the IMO’s relevant guidelines.

The increasing digitalization of the shipping industry and the associated global cyber threats warrant a proactive global approach spearheaded by the IMO.