Port shutdown shows importance of maritime security

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 13 November, 2023

Port shutdown shows importance of maritime security

The cyber attack that forced the shutdown of some of Australia’s largest ports is a timely reminder of the importance of maritime cybersecurity, according to RMIT expert Professor Matthew Warren.

Port operator DP World Australia shut down land operations at its ports in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth in the wake of the cyber attack, leaving ships unable to unload freight.

The company has blamed a sophisticated cyber attack that required the suspension of internet connectivity at the affected ports. At time of writing, the affected ports were still not operational.

Warren, who is Director of the RMIT Cyber Security Research and Innovation, said the incident shows how much disruption a cyber incident targeting docks and ports can cause.

“The incident is impacting operations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle. Any disruption to docks could potentially disrupt Australia’s supply chain,” he said.

“The government’s new approach to cybersecurity incident handling and the key role that Australia’s National Cyber Security Coordinator [will play are going to] be key in dealing with a cyber incident of national significance such as this.”

Warren noted that the attack comes in the weeks before the federal government unveils its new cybersecurity strategy.

“[This strategy] will reinforce a new approach to handling cybersecurity from a whole-of-nation perspective. It must introduce more regulatory controls to allow the government and industry to work together when there is a cyber incident of national significance,” Warren said.

“In the meantime, the government with DP World Australia will be handling the current cyber situation to resolve it as soon as possible.”

Image: DP World

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