Maritime sector unprepared for major threats, report warns

Data theft and cyber attacks were identified as the maritime industry’s Achilles heel. Credit: Getty Images
Data theft and cyber attacks were identified as the maritime industry’s Achilles heel. Credit: Getty Images

A powerful new study has concluded that the global maritime sector remains ill-prepared for the major challenges it faces in the short to medium term.

The Global Maritime Issues Monitor 2018, published on 3 October by the Global Maritime Forum, global insurance broker and risk adviser Marsh, and the International Union of Marine Insurance, found that senior stakeholders believe that the global maritime industry is not prepared to deal with major issues that are likely to affect it in the next decade.

Calling it the first industry report of its kind, the three organisations said it examines the affects and likelihood of 17 major issues based on research conducted among senior maritime stakeholders across more than 50 countries.

The study concluded that the maritime industry does not appear to be prepared for any of these issues. Worryingly, this is amplified by the fact that the problems for which the industry is least prepared are the ones deemed to have the biggest potential impacts on the sector.

The five issues that the industry appears to be least prepared for are cyber attacks and data theft, global economic crisis, geopolitical tension, air pollution, and governance failure.

Cyber attacks and data theft were identified as the maritime industry’s Achilles’ heel, according to the report. In addition to being ranked the top issue for which the industry is least prepared, executives believe it also has the greatest likelihood of actually occurring and, in terms of impact, is surpassed only by a global economic crisis and energy price fluctuations.

“The difference between a risk and an opportunity is how soon you discover it. The Issues Monitor found that there is a need for a greater awareness of the long-term forces shaping our decision-making, and in this perspective, the Global Maritime Issues Monitor can be seen as a modest contribution to a thorough understanding of the current state of affairs,” said Peter Stokes, chairman of the Global Maritime Forum.

“Emerging digital technologies are challenging conventional business models and creating new opportunities for the global maritime industry,” added Marcus Baker, chairman of Global Marine Practice at Marsh. “But, along with its transformative power, this digitalisation is creating rapidly evolving risks such as cyber attacks and data theft. It is worrying that, despite recent high-profile attacks, the industry is failing to get to grips with cyber risk. By taking a more strategic approach, firms are better positioned to capitalise on these opportunities while protecting their people and assets from digital threats.”