Shipowners should update their onboard computer systems to the latest Windows operating system, if they are on Windows XP for instance, to avoid viral disruptions. They should also consider upgrading satellite communications with VSAT and a smart communications module, such as Speedcast's Sigma Gateway.
Navios group IT director Katerina Raptaki explained that most of the computers on ships it operates are updated to the latest operating systems. “We have spent a lot of money and human resources to update our onboard computers to the latest Windows as it expands the possibility of the resources,” she said at a seminar co-hosted by Riviera Maritime Media and Speedcast.
However, not all systems on Navios' ships were updated as the cargo control systems remain on Windows XP operating systems because of the cost of getting shipyards to update the software, Ms Raptaki explained. She was involved in discussions at the Reality and Future of the Digital Ship seminar during Nor-Shipping near Oslo, Norway.
Recent global cyber attacks have demonstrated the vulnerability of computer systems still operating on Windows XP. Speedcast director of energy products and cyber security expert Rolf Berge said shipowners should upgrade their onboard networks to the latest Windows operating system and keep antivirus software and firewalls updated. He also recommended that owners should get third parties to conduct risk assessments and system vulnerability checks.
Ericsson business director Douglas Watson said blockchain technology could be used to prevent non-authorised people making changes to online documents. The company’s biggest customer is Maersk Line, which operates more than 400 container ships and is working with IBM to develop blockchain maritime products.
Speedcast commercial maritime director Dan Rooney recommended that shipowners should train crew to prevent the risk of virus infections. “They need to identify what the threats are and train crew to understand that memory sticks can carry viruses,” he said.
Acquisitions and organic growth has meant Speedcast has become one of the largest providers of satellite connectivity to commercial shipping, offshore vessels and passenger ships. Chief executive Pierre-Jean Beylier said this meant Speedcast is a major buyer of satellite coverage with access to at least 35 VSAT beams worldwide. It is also a leading distributor of Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress and Iridium’s OpenPort L-band services.