Despite the many technological advancements aboard a superyacht, security remains a constant issue. Both while travelling and at anchor, cyber security is of the utmost importance in the luxury vessels.
OceanWeb – A trusted name for more than 90 superyachts
OceanWeb Ltd was founded 20 years ago. Dr Ben Hextall, the company’s Managing Director and founder, has managed a vast network of contacts and has worked with numerous types of marine vessels, from racing yachts to superyachts. Today, the company’s expertise in IT services and cyber security is lent to more than 90 superyachts.
The unique challenges of superyachts
Superyachts are unique in a lot of regards, and cyber security is no different. For the owners and guests, superyachts are luxurious holiday homes on the sea. There, they can indulge on virtually anything and technology always plays some part in it.
For crew, superyachts are not just a place of work but also a place of everyday living. They have to use a number of different devices for work-related purposes but they also use their very own, personal devices such as mobile phones and tablets.
Because of the fact that both owners and crew have personal devices, a superyacht can be considered as a “bring your own device” (BYOD) environment. As one might suspect, cyber security is infinitely more complicated when users are allowed access on their own devices.
The on-board devices, including the tablets used for many operations aboard a superyacht, can be secured via a variety of methods and precisely tested against vulnerabilities. Security experts can equip them with protective services, for example, so these devices are generally secure.
The use of personal devices, however, makes for a more challenging environment. Another complication is the array of external connections that superyacht owners, guests, and crew might employ, such as public Wi-Fi hotspots, 4G networks, and VSAT.
Combine all that with other challenges of marine life, such as a very real possibility of physical loss, and cyber security becomes a multi-layered challenge that requires a sophisticated approach.
Protection in a BYOD environment
OceanWeb has two decades’ worth of experience in the industry of cyber security in marine environments. As such, they have developed a deep understanding of the unique issues facing superyachts and have come up with an integrated solution which aims to reduce risk as much as possible.
As a BYOD environment cannot be prevented, OceanWeb provides policy advice to crew members such as the captain and the vessel’s engineers. As they are advised on acceptable uses of their devices, the risk of infection or other vulnerability threats is significantly reduced.
In addition to that, network traffic on OceanWeb systems is effectively segregated. As such, crews are given their own virtual network to use so that the main systems are not compromised in the event of a security threat. Moreover, web and email traffic is scanned at the gateway level, ensuring that potential threats are pro-actively anticipated and blocked.
Third-party services are a convenient but dangerous reality of Internet connectivity in marine environments. The unfortunate truth is that such services pose major security risks but users are often unaware and sensitive information may be transmitted.
One of the issues is that unencrypted data can be monitored and acquired by anyone with the technical know-how. One of OceanWeb solutions is to encrypt all email communication at both ends, ensuring that hackers or other potential threats will not be able to read them.
Furthermore, dedicated anti-spam and anti-virus systems are installed. These secure the email systems against all incoming traffic so that threats cannot make it through. Anti-virus systems are also installed on all work devices for an extra layer of protection.
Securing access to physical devices and wireless connections is another part of the cyber security efforts. For instance, OceanWeb provides both password rotation schedules and crew behaviour policies. Furthermore, they monitor the loss of devices and limit physical access to equipment by logging and monitoring access.
Securing and backing up data
Aside from threats in the cyber space, the loss of physical devices can be a huge blow. If sensitive data is stored in a device, attackers can retrieve it with ease once they have physical access.
As such, OceanWeb can track and remote devices remotely in the case of emergencies. To ensure that vital information or personal data is not lost, they also back up data in a secure location. In addition, additional hardware is supplied on critical systems so that malfunctions are not catastrophic.
Overall, OceanWeb provides a complete solution that is uniquely catered to superyachts. By protecting devices across several different areas, including against human error, they ensure that devices and connections on board can be as secure as possible at all times.