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NY/NJ Port Stakeholders Form Coalition Against Cyber Threats

The Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC) for the Port of New York and New Jersey has formed a new partnership to address the growing cybersecurity challenges.

The US Coast Guard and AMSC for the Port of New York and New Jersey have collaborated to implement a framework to enhance maritime cybersecurity and port resilience – one of the most challenging security issues facing the global marine transportation system (MTS).

The coalition is bringing together leaders across industry sectors to lend their expertise to the problem. Specifically, membership includes representatives from Rutgers University, Stevens Institute, and major segments of the maritime industry.

The end result of their work is an agreement by all members of the AMSC to share cyber threat information and participate in routine cyber exercises. The plan also establishes a Cyber Advisory Committee, comprised of cyber and industry experts ready to assist in a cyber-incident response, and creates an awards program to recognize port partners who have taken proactive steps to make cybersecurity a top priority.

“The fact that port partners across different industry sectors came together to develop this plan speaks to the serious nature of the cyber threat and is a testament to the shared equities at stake,” Capt. Jason Tama, Coast Guard Captain of the Port and Federal Maritime Security Coordinator, said.

Recent cyber attacks have significantly impacted the maritime industry. Incidents including the NotPetya attack of 2017 which wiped out the global network of A.P. Moeller-Maersk, the 2018 targeted ransomware attack at the Port of San Diego, and the February 2019 disabling of a cargo vessel’s computer network while inbound to the Port of New York and New Jersey each highlighted some of the cyber threats and vulnerabilities facing the maritime sector.

These incidents, along with the industry’s rapidly increasing reliance on automation and information and operational technology, have made cybersecurity a top priority for the AMSC, the USCG said in a statement.

“Cyberattacks are a 21st century reality and an ever-present operational risk that we must be ready for,” Jeff Milstein, of Vitol vessel operations, one of the world’s largest energy traders, and former chair of the AMSC, commented.

“We have witnessed first-hand the disruption that a cyber-incident can cause in our nation’s ports, and we’re committed to taking action to minimize those risks.”

“The financial sector has a vested interest in the maritime industry’s ability to deliver goods and services to the U.S. ports,” Frank Vesce, vice president of cybersecurity for Goldman Sachs and a member of the AMSC’s Executive Steering Committee, noted.

“A disruption to cargo, oil and gas, or passenger ferries could potentially impact the markets, especially commodities. Raising awareness and helping prepare the port partners to stay ahead of cyber threats benefits everyone, globally.”

The AMSC for the Port of New York and New Jersey plans to recognize inaugural award recipients and conduct its next port-wide cyber exercise in 2020.

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