Singapore bolsters maritime defences against cyber threats

Credit: MPA

The Singapore government has launched a new co-ordination centre that will bolster its maritime infrastructure against threats in the cyber domain.

Known as the Maritime Cybersecurity Operations Centre (MSOC), the facility was launched by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on 16 May. The centre will be operated by state-affiliated company ST Engineering on a 24/7 basis.

“Cyber threats come in many forms and have been rising steadily across the globe,” said Niam Chiang Meng, chairman of the MPA, in a statement on the facility’s launch. “As the world’s busiest transhipment hub, it’s important that we safeguard our maritime and port critical infrastructure to prevent a major disruption to port operations and delivery of services,” he added.

The MSOC has been tasked to monitor and correlate data activities across all critical information infrastructure (CII) in the maritime domain. It has been equipped with information systems that can detect and monitor cyber attacks and other anomalies by analysing activities in the IT environment, and provide appropriate responses to these incidences.

However, the MPA has not given further specifications of the systems deployed, citing confidentiality concerns. But the agency has indicated that it will build key data linkages between its port operations control centre and the MSOC so that it can better respond to cyber-security incidents in a timelier manner.

Beyond establishing the MSOC, the MPA will launch a new course in 2020 to equip maritime personnel with knowledge and skills to manage cyber threats. The course is being developed in collaboration with the Singapore Shipping Association, and tertiary institution Singapore Polytechnic.

Amid increased digitalisation of components on board ships, the agency is also teaming up with the Singapore Maritime Institute and other local institutes of higher learning to embark on a maritime-oriented cyber-security research programme, which will focus on the protection of these systems.