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Showing posts from tagged with: Inmarsat maritime

A Day in the Life…

Article by Chris Clifford


John Dodd Inmarsat


Driven by a passion to save more lives at sea, John Dodd is used to a high-adrenaline, fast-paced daily working life. Whether it is reacting to a desperate call about a missing yacht or travelling around the world to assist with Search and Rescue operations and provide critical training, John’s role leading the Inmarsat Safety team is dedicated to keeping over two million seafarers and sailors safe every day.

Over 23 years’ experience in telecommunications and satellite technology, plus a childhood spent sailing on a yacht with his uncle and later as an open water canoeing instructor, provided him with first¬hand experience of the dangers of the sea. Today, his team at Inmarsat is responsible for overseeing current and future Maritime Safety Services within the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), working closely with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Rescue Coordination Centres (RCC).

Responsibility for the lives of all the sailors out on the world’s oceans every day sounds like a daunting burden to carry for anyone heading to work. However, for John, and his Inmarsat Safety team, it is a job they love. All of them are fully committed to the continual innovation of Inmarsat’s safety services as the only IMO-approved satellite provider operating GMDSS, proud to claim over 99.9% network availability across the globe. Even sailors on leisure yachts exempt from GMDSS regulations benefit from Inmarsat safety services which are free of charge for all seafarers. It is the gratitude of rescued sailors and their families, plus the appreciation of rescue service personnel to game-changing improvements in SAR operational procedures, that continues to motivate John after six years in the job.

John arrives at Inmarsat’s towering London headquarters on City Road with the prospect of dealing with a daily average of nine distress alerts sent out by vessels, all picked up and monitored by the team at the sophisticated Network Operations Centre (NOC). In each instance, John and the NOC team will follow the progress of the SAR operation until it is resolved, sometimes coordinating with the relevant Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) or initiating further investigations to see whether the missing person can be tracked using any on-board equipment. In reality, John’s working day may well have started a lot earlier, with safety service on call 24/7 to support the Inmarsat NOC team. A wake-up call in the middle of the night to deal with an urgent distress situation is not usual. In these situations, the brilliant Inmarsat staff at the NOC, constantly monitoring search and rescue and satellite systems operations, will stop everything. Safety of life always takes priority, which is what makes John’s job very different. Whether in London or training at a Rescue Centre, the Inmarsat Safety team are closely bound, united by the amount of time spent working together and with the IMO, in often very stressful conditions.

Inmarsat - Network Operations Centre (NOC) 016b

Some of the more recent rescue situations John has encountered last long in his memory. One of those involved a young girl who called Inmarsat Safety in tears, explaining her dad was lost at sea having failed to arrive at his destination. With no safety communications equipment on-board and no distress alert sent, he could not be tracked through an official GMDSS service, but John ascertained that he had tried to use an IsatPhone only hours earlier but had no credit. Inmarsat, who are able to load credit on the phone for distress situations, then found the position and a SAR operation was started immediately. John carried on liaising with the family and RCC, but in the early hours of the following day a life raft was found with the sailor dead inside. Although a tragic outcome, the family still sent a message to the Inmarsat team thanking them for allowing at least some resolution.

For about eight months of the year, John’s time is split between the office and the IMO, but for the remaining time he is travelling to IMO conferences and sub-committee meetings around the world and visiting any of the 45 MRCCs associated with Inmarsat safety services. John works in line with incentives from the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) to train personnel at the Rescue Centres around the world. With recent visits to centres in Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, John is continuing to instruct on Inmarsat’s RescueNET – a ground-breaking system created to improve SAR communications, offered free to MRCCs. Implementing elements of the system such as two-stage distress dialling and enhanced co-ordination between the centres using a and measured reaction during a SAR exercise.

Life at the London HQ has its lighter side, with the company holding a variety of events, such as a recent wine-tasting.The Inmarsat safety simulator is used as a tool to teach school children and instruct Navy cadets about the dangers at sea and safety commitment. Leading the groups gives John a chance to turn up the waves for a fully immersive, heart-pumping experience for his students. It’s just another way for John to keeping reinforcing the message of safety at sea every day.

Runlist_ON BOARD SUMMER 20 105-4
Runlist_ON BOARD SUMMER 20 104-3

Act before you’re hacked

Article by Chris Clifford


Inmarsat Fleet Secure

Simple and generic antivirus is no longer fit for purpose: a genuinely effective, multi-layered, maritime cyber security solution has to combine cyber awareness, network security and endpoint security, writes Wayne Perks, Manager of Security Services, Inmarsat Maritime

Cyber security, or the lack of it, is often portrayed as a pivot point upon which the smooth running of contemporary society is precariously balanced. There can be little doubt that it legitimately represents one of the most fundamental concerns of our times, considering that the integrity of everything from

business-critical services and sensitive personal data to asset monitoring, transport network infrastructure and even political processes is now entirely contingent upon the impregnability of online networks.

Maritime cyber security naturally presents its own set of specific challenges. Cyber-attackers have been characteristically quick to exploit vulnerabilities in this sector, leading to threats not just on individual vessel systems, but also sophisticated, enormously damaging ransomware attacks on multinational shipping conglomerates. In one such incident, the infamous NotPetya incursion of June 2017, a major ship company was forced to retreat into using manual systems over the space of 10 days while it hurriedly invested in 4,000 new servers, 45,000 new PCs and 2,500 applications.

Grim episodes such as these should be interpreted as the most deafening of wake-up calls, yet the evidence suggests that a worrying percentage of vessel owners and operators are still either implementing outdated, insufficient and ineffectual cyber security measures, or languishing in blissful ignorance of the threat severity – despite having first-hand experience, in many cases, of cyberattacks on their own onboard systems.

In the superyacht sector alone, the statistics make for sobering reading. In a poll conducted for Inmarsat’s 2018 Superyacht Connectivity Report, almost 40% of respondents admitted that their onboard cyber security regime merely consisted of a basic firewall. Combine this in the bigger picture with the 2017 findings of FutureNautics’ Ship Operators Cyber Security Survey, in which 39% of respondents reported a cyberattack on their vessels’ onboard systems within the last 12 months, and it becomes obvious that cyber resilience remains an issue that entire swathes of the seafaring community urgently need to engage with.

At its most basic level, the initial problem may be one of perception. The assumption among superyacht skippers and crew has often appeared to be that a standard antivirus program will cover all their cyber security requirements. Not unreasonably, many are drawn to the idea of a one-shot easy fix, a silver bullet that will discreetly seal off their systems for good – job done. There is, of course, no such thing, and infallible, 100% cyber security is a hopeful concept at best; so it’s important to acknowledge that an in-depth cyber defence incentive consisting of multiple layers is by some distance the most effective approach to adopt for achieving far higher security maturity.

It is for this reason that Inmarsat developed its Fleet Secure Portfolio, which consists of three services – Fleet Secure UTM (Unified Threat Management), which is a comprehensive set of tools designed to continuously inspect, detect and protect the vessel’s network; Fleet Secure Endpoint, a powerful multi-layered endpoint security solution to prevent attacks whilst removing infections and threats throughout the onboard endpoints; and Fleet Secure Cyber Awareness, cyber security training specifically targeted for seafarers, raising awareness to assist in preventing threats before they get on board. Each service is separate, so customers can opt to choose one of the three, or deploy all of them. The Fleet Secure Portfolio actively seeks to maintain a secure system core by ringing it with this three-pronged defence strategy combining network security, awareness and training, and endpoint security.

If this level of safeguarding is to be achieved, it stands to reason that all the bases have to be covered. Generic antivirus software only has anti-spyware and anti-phishing capabilities, and will only work if the most recent update version is installed. Updates often need to be actioned on a daily basis, and with modern attack vectors encompassing methods to bypass antivirus there can still be no guarantee to catch every form of malicious software.

However, in order to fulfil its brief, Fleet Secure Endpoint has to encompass a raft of additional duties including ransomware prevention, botnet protection, network monitoring, web control, multi-engine scanning, endpoint health status and threat alerting, and the provision of a full asset inventory – software, hardware and so on.
A significant shortcoming of standard antivirus is its inability to recognise malware and ransomware which hacks into the network, as opposed to being launched from system files. The deceptively benign-sounding EternalBlue and EternalRomance exploits, for example, linked with the ruinous NotPetya and WannaCry attacks of 2017, capitalise on vulnerabilities present within the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol in some versions of Microsoft Windows.

Clearly, a proactive means of detecting, alerting and reporting ever-more insidious and cunning methods of cyberattack is key to staying ahead of the curve. The Fleet Secure Endpoint solution is designed to spot new nodes on the network or malign encryption attempts: the solution instantly informs users of any anomalous activity which deviates from the ‘known good’ configuration while simultaneously barring access to all files on the device, segregating the affected part of the system so that other systems aren’t impacted.

In purely practical terms, another attractive aspect of the solution is that it places little surplus demands on contracted bandwidth and requires no extra outlay on hardware. Operating via high-speed broadband connectivity, it determines external attacks including, crucially, malware which may have been introduced into the vessel’s local area network by accident.

It has been estimated that 95% of maritime cyberattack incidents are caused by simple human error. The entire network can be compromised by crew members downloading from unreliable sources, unknowingly plugging infected USB sticks into operational IT equipment (navigational equipment and engine monitoring systems, etc), or even merely charging their vape pens through USB ports. The belief that devices which carry no data are impervious to infection is, sadly, untrue. And on this topic, superyacht crews need to be made aware that tech items such as drones, smart TVs and music systems are also vulnerable.

Preventing accidental cyber security breaches such as these before they can occur is a central pillar of the Fleet Secure ideology. The first line of defence is to encourage best practice through detailed guidelines, appropriate training and strict adherence to designated processes (including the regular changing of system passwords and Wi-Fi access codes). To this end, Inmarsat has collaborated with the Marine Learning Alliance and management consultants Stapleton International to devise Fleet Secure Cyber Awareness – a dedicated cyber security training regime to enlighten crews and captains about the many ways through which the onboard IT infrastructure can become compromised.
Forewarned is forearmed: but the process needs to be ongoing. Effective cyber awareness requires seafarers to drill into all the corners, all the time: always ensuring that passwords aren’t shared, ensuring that users know how to readily identify generic/phishing emails, ensuring that coherent plans are in place for a manual system override (or similar recovery procedures) in the event of the network becoming overwhelmed by a series of automated cyberattacks, and so on.

The onset of autonomy poses a new set of cyber security challenges for the future, with worrying potential scenarios including the hacking of a vessel’s navigation systems when there is no captain aboard to perform corrective manual manoeuvres. Clearly, preventing situations of that alarming nature must be taken into consideration when designing new superyachts bristling with state-of-the-art but nonetheless vulnerable technology. With the Fleet Secure Portfolio as an evolutionary cyber security solution, we see our role as not just providing peace of mind for seafarers, but also encouraging the implementation of a more responsible and attentive mindset – perpetuating a higher standard of cyber maturity across the maritime community.

For more details visit www.inmarsat.com/maritime