by Atlantic Council
The maritime transportation system (MTS) is critical to the protection of global energy systems, national security operations, and crucial arteries for global commerce. Despite this, maritime cybersecurity risks remain under-appreciated. To address this pressing issue, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, presents Raising the Colors: Signaling for Cooperation on Maritime Cybersecurity by Will Loomis, Virpratap Vikram Singh, Dr. Gary Kessler, and Dr. Xavier Bellekens.
No global supply chain is independent of the maritime transportation sector, and most, in fact, are existentially dependent on it. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial shipping moved close to 80 percent of global trade by volume and over 70 percent of global trade by value. Yet, this same infrastructure is also systemically insecure. In 2020, cyberattacks targeting the MTS increased by 400 percent over the span of a few months. Just last month, a suspected government-backed operation breached the Port of Houston’s systems.
The US government began to address the shortfalls in the sector’s cybersecurity by releasing the National Maritime Cybersecurity Plan (NMCP) in December 2020. Like many first steps, the plan was more like a road map than an implementation plan, despite initiating several useful lines of effort.This report builds and expands on these efforts across the complex MTS to present a path forward for industry stakeholders, as well as policy makers in the United States and allied states, to improve their collective cybersecurity posture within the MTS. Raising the Colors proposes twelve actionable recommendations for government and industry in partnership to: (I) raise the baseline (II) deepen stakeholder awareness, and (III) collaborate on cyber risk.