A unique new research facility designed to address the key cybersecurity challenges facing the shipping industry is being established at the University of Plymouth.
The £3 million Cyber-SHIP Lab, supported by funding from Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation, and industry, will bring together a host of connected maritime systems currently found on an actual ship’s bridge.
Experts in cybersecurity and information systems will then assess them for weaknesses, and identify the human and technological changes needed to make them secure for the future.
The Lab is being developed and delivered in partnership with key industry sectors including equipment manufacturers, solution developers, shipping and port operators, shipbuilders, classification agencies and insurance companies.
It will feature cutting edge maritime technology including radar equipment, a voyage data recorder (VDR), an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), an automatic identification system (AIS) and communications devices.
And it will complement the University’s existing world-leading maritime facilities, which include a state-of-the-art simulator dedicated to training professional seafarers, and a lab examining latest advances in cybersecurity.
The creation of the Cyber-SHIP Lab is being coordinated by researchers from the University’s Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group and Centre for Security, Communications and Network Research, which between them combine leading multidisciplinary research and practical expertise from across the University and beyond.
Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean for Science and Engineering and Principal Investigator for the Project, said: “The creation of the Cyber-SHIP Lab is a transformational step towards developing a national centre for research into maritime cyber-security. It will support a range of research and training that cannot be achieved with simulators alone, and also facilitate the development and delivery of new maritime cyber provision for graduates, postgraduates and industry.
“Cyber-attacks are a Tier1 National UK threat. But although the maritime sector is advancing technologically, it is not well protected against cyber or cyber-physical attacks and accidents. Worth trillions, it has an unmatched reach across international waters, which exposes people and goods to a diverse range of factors, putting the shipping industry at high risk. As such, this facility has never been more timely.”
The Cyber-SHIP Lab, which has been funded for three years with a view to it then becoming self-sustaining, will address a number of complex and interlinked issues affecting the maritime industry.
It will take into account both technological and human behavioural aspects in order to effectively mitigate threats, especially considering the huge variation in vessel types, which can be subjected to cyber-attacks in differing ways for differing motivations.
It will support the delivery of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, develop ongoing relationships between academia and external partners, consolidate and create new international collaborations by allowing shared access to facilities, and act as a key enabling facility in support of the economic growth ambitions of the Oceansgate development in Plymouth.