Insurers look to drive cyber standards across marine sector

Insurers have been told that they must get tough in cyber exposures. Credit: PA
Insurers have been told that they must get tough in cyber exposures. Credit: PA

Maritime businesses face the prospect of being given a ranking on their ability to combat cyber threats under plans discussed by insurers.

At the Global Insurance Forum in Singapore this week insurers across the world were told they face a potential crisis similar to the banking crash unless they get tough in cyber exposures.

Chad Fulgham, adviser with US firm Cyber Risk Marketplace, and former chief information officer with the FBI, told the conference that insurers were standing “at the edge of a cliff” when it came to their provision of cyber insurance.

Fulgham asked the insurers how many actually understood the level of cyber protection and expertise their clients and suppliers had within their businesses, which in turn formed part of their own cyber security.

He said insurers had to get a better understanding of the preparedness of the insured when it comes to cyber.

The forum discussed the formation of a global standard for cyber security, which would see firms provided with a ranking that could be used by underwriters.

“Only with a standard that is agreed across the market can underwriters understand just how good the risk they are being asked to take is,” said Mr Fulgham.

He warned that there were some industries and sectors which were viewed as better than others but the new standard would reward firms who took the risk seriously.

Speaking to IHS IHS Markit after his address, Fulgham said the marine market was one of those industries that faced a bigger challenge than most.

“Given its global nature and the role it plays in world trade the marine market has a challenge when it comes to cyber security,” he explained. “The US Naval Academy is now teaching celestial navigation again to its students. There is a real fear of the consequences if hackers were to access GPS and other navigational systems. If the navy is concerned about the threat, then it goes without saying the merchant fleet needs to take the issue seriously.”

The insurers’ discussions come as the UK P&I Club urged its members not to rely on just electronic navigation methods.

The club said the warning came following reports that GPS signals have been jammed and rising concerns that other electronic signals will be interrupted and accessed.

It said navigation officers should also practise celestial navigation and post watches rather than simply rely on the technology.