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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

VSAT chosen for bandwidth, resilience and security

Thu 20 Sep 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

VSAT chosen for bandwidth, resilience and security
Spring Marine uses World-Link's cyber security to prevent threats from reaching its vessels

Greek shipmanager Spring Marine’s ICT manager Konstantinos Zacharias explains why it selected World-Link Communications for VSAT services across its fleet

Greek ship operator and manager Spring Marine Management chose its satellite communications provider because the bandwidth and post-installation services matched its requirements.

Spring Marine selected World-Link Communications to provide VSAT communications and after-sales services for its managed fleet. It required high bandwidth for vessel communications and secure links for information transmissions, said Spring Marine ICT manager Konstantinos Zacharias.

“Our VSAT system, complemented with the value-added services deployed by World-Link Communications, ensures the global uninterrupted communications of the vessels,” he said.

“Vessel owners and charterers demand high quality and availability to enhance the safe operations of the vessels and improve the morale of the crew,” he explained.

“Vessel owners and charterers demand high quality and availability to enhance the safe operations of the vessels”

World-Link helped Spring Marine evaluate the installation and deployment of VSAT terminals on the vessels and integration with its office IT infrastructure.

“Additionally, it has helped us to increase our awareness of the various cyber security risks that a vessel faces,” Mr Zacharias explained “and has provided us with services to proactively safeguard the vessel communications.”

These companies started working together in 2016 when Spring Marine deployed one of the first Inmarsat Fleet Xpress Ka-band VSAT systems on one of its vessels.

Since then, Spring Marine has upgraded several vessels to this VSAT technology. In 2017, it started a pilot project to include World-Link’s cyber security Ship Secure product, which has since been deployed on several of its managed vessels.

Mr Zacharias said World-Link helped guarantee high availability of VSAT connectivity to vessels it manages, apart from when this is affected by inclement weather. This “helps us meet our commercial contractual obligations,” he said.

Secure and reliable VSAT has also helped seafarers on ships Spring Marine manages. “The speed of the connection has boosted the morale of our crew who can now communicate more easily with their families worldwide,” said Mr Zacharias.

Cyber security was a key aspect to VSAT services for Spring Marine, especially as the shipmanager's ICT manager expects ships will become “more attractive targets to potential cyber threats” due to their high asset value versus the ease of which a cyber attack can be initiated.

“There is no doubt that the cost [to the hacker] of a cyber-attack is very low compared to the possible returns derived from a cyber-hacked vessel,” said Mr Zacharias.

“We anticipate an increase in cyber attacks, therefore, we are undertaking a more proactive defence against them”

“Because of this, we anticipate an increase in cyber attacks, therefore, we are undertaking a more proactive defence against them.”

This is being achieved by deploying advanced firewalls and other cyber defences, such as frequent penetration tests and continuous threat monitoring on vessels and office IT infrastructure. World-Link has provided experienced IT and communications security to Spring Marine to evade cyber threats.

“Although the majority of cyber security tools automate most of the necessary cyber defences, there are still cases where manual evaluation of the reports from an experienced expert is required,” said Mr Zacharias.

“Most maritime companies will require additional IT security services for the office IT infrastructure to safeguard the communications between the office and the vessel,” he concluded.

Spring Marine was founded in 2008 by a team that has operated up to 35 ships in the last 40 years.

World-Link added functions to ShipSecure in 2017 and 2018. It is a multi-layered fleet security management system that can give shipowners, managers and operators an indication of the cyber threats to their assets.

ShipSecure gives owners the ability to control onboard security to protect computerslinked to the internet, said World-Link president Asad Salameh.

He explained that ShipSecure incorporates several components that improve a fleet’s cyber security. “We deploy virtual machine and cloud-based technologies to integrate onboard unified threat management devices and sensors,” he said.

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