Gard: working from home increases cyber risks

PRESS RELEASE – Maritime consultant Gard is warning of increased cyber risks now most employees are working from home or other remote locations. “Crises like the COVID-19 pandemic often lead malicious cyber actors to take advantage”, says Jarle Fosen, senior Loss Prevention Executive at Gard. 

In response to denied physical access, quarantined vessels and travel restrictions, shipowners are actively opening for remote access, implementing remote digital survey tools towards vessels and encouraging shore staff to work from home.

This leads to increased use of mobile devices to access systems onboard vessels and core business systems in the company, but unprotected devices could lead to the loss of data, privacy breaches, and systems being held at ransom, Gard warns.

“Cybercriminals will look to attack operational systems and backup capabilities simultaneously in highly sophisticated ways leading to destructive cyber attacks. Cybersecurity depends not only on how the company and shipboard systems are designed but also on how they are used, the human factor”, says Fosen.

Malicious Covid-19 emails are already circulating on the internet and Gard warns to stay alert and avoid phishing. ‘Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19 related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19’, the company states.

Criminals trying to exploit the maritime industry, the vessels and their crew are well organised and continuously evolve in the way they operate. Gard therefore advises shipowners to undertake risk assessments and incorporate measures to deal with cyber risks in their ship’s safety management systems and crew awareness training as well as their corporate culture an offices.

Author: Tobias Pieffers

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