13 Aug 2016 | 

The maritime industry has fallen behind when it comes to dealing with the cyber threat, the president of the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI), has told IHS Fairplay. Ships have in the past been regarded as single and isolated risks but now the industry is embarking on a new age in terms of digitalisation, Dieter Berg said.
Berg, who is also a senior executive at reinsurance company Munich Re, said the insurance industry needed to grow its products alongside the rising use of technology both on board vessels and in ports across the world.
Berg said there was now growing use of technology such as electronic navigation systems that require vessels to exchange real-time data and other central data sources and sea vessels communicating with shore-based facilities.
“Shipping is now far more connected in terms of global communications, ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore contact. There is a lot of discussion about autonomous shipping, which has been similar to the aviation industry, and will see more support for captains to enhance safe navigation,” he added.
“I do not believe we will see the day when ships are operating without any humans on board but it may well become a case where the captain and the engineer are the only crew and will rely heavily on systems, data, and technology.”
Berg suggested that greater links between vessel via satellite date exchanges and the internet of things will bring with it greater potential for shipowners to drive cost efficiencies but it will also create new risks for firms and marine insurers.
“There will be threats,” he added. “There will be the danger of malicious intrusion into the systems and also the accidental interference with systems. I believe we will see cyber risks get physical.
“In the past cyber attacks have concentrated on the intangible targets such as access to credit card information and personal data, but as we have seen in recent years there is now a move to mount physical attacks on systems that affect the function of the target such as hospitals, power grid, and oil platforms. We will have to look to address the physical threats that cyber risks pose to the industry,” Berg added.
Berg believes that the use of ‘smart containers’ equipped with GPS tracking, multiple sensors and the technology to regulate temperate and other systems inside the container itself will drive real benefits with logistics companies able to end the long wait at ports as the systems will allow truck drivers to be informed exactly when the container will be unloaded and ready for collection.
It will also aid the movement of fresh food and valuable cargos as they can be monitored and tracked during their carriage.
“For insurers we will need to provide new and innovative products for our clients,” said Berg. “One of the issues currently is the lack of claims data and with it the difficulty in modelling accumulation risks.
“We as an industry will need to work closely with our clients to understand their individual risk profiles to more adequately provide cover for cyber threats. As an industry we are good in risk assessment but in the early stage of the process.
“There are some grey areas to be tackled; one of which is what is deemed to have been a cyber risk. If cargo is stolen by manipulating the alarm system with a computer, is that any different to if it has failed due to impacted by a hammer? We need to define what we regard as cyber risks.”
Berg said the issue will be discussed when IUMI meets for its annual conference in Genoa in September.


Return to News