Cyber Attack Hits International Maritime Organization

 In International Shipping

Cyber AttackMark the International Maritime Organization (IMO) down as the latest international shipping industry player to be hit by cyber attack.

There are no indicators to say the cyber attack on the IMO is related to the cyber attack on CMA CGM, which I just wrote about in Universal Cargo’s blog on Thursday. That is, there’s no indication of relation other than they’re both cyber attacks on major international shipping players in the same week.

While the IMO didn’t exactly advertise about the attack on its website – something that would have been hard to do anyway with the website going down due to the attack – the organization did tweet about the cyber attack on Thursday:

“The interruption of service was caused by a cyber attack against our IT systems. IMO is working with @UN IT and security experts to restore systems as soon as possible, identify the source of the attack, and further enhance security systems to prevent recurrence,” the organization said in the tweet.

On Friday, the IMO tweeted that its website was back up and running:

After the website was back up and running on Friday, the IMO gave a bit more detail in a press release:

A number of IMO’s web-based services became unavailable on Wednesday 30 September. The systems impacted included the IMO public website and other web-based services.

The email system, including other Internal and external collaboration platforms, are working as normal. The platform used for virtual meeting with simultaneous interpretation has been unaffected and continued to function, without issue, during Wednesday’s Facilitation Committee (FAL) session and is expected to continue to function during today’s final FAL session.

The interruption of web-based services was caused by a sophisticated cyber-attack against the Organization’s IT systems that overcame robust security measures in place.

IMO has ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification for its information security management system. IMO was the first UN organization to get this certification in 2015.

The IMO Headquarters file servers are located in the UK, with extensive backup systems in Geneva. The backup and restore system is regularly tested.

Following the attack the Secretariat shut down key systems to prevent further damage from the attack.

The Secretariat is working with international security experts to restore systems as soon as possible, to identify the source of the attack, and further enhance security systems to prevent recurrence.

Since yesterday (01/10/2020), service has been restored to the GISIS database; IMODOCS; and Virtual Publications. For security reasons, these systems were not available for a few hours early this morning but they are now back up and running.

Service will be restored to other web-based services as soon as possible and as safe as possible.

The Secretariat takes its responsibilities for cyber risk management and information security management extremely seriously and has acted immediately to address the cyber attack and to implement measures to ensure the risk of recurrence is minimised.

Cyber attack disruption to the IMO in addition to the four largest ocean freight carriers – Maersk, MSC, COSCO, and CMA CGM – all suffering major cyber attacks within the last few years adds to the disturbing trend of cyber attacks on international shipping companies that I wrote about last week.

Cargo Volume & Freight Rate Behavior in Next Blog

Meanwhile, interesting things are happening with ocean shipping demand and freight rates, especially in regards to transpacific shipping between China and the U.S. On Thursday, we’ll examine that and see if the outlook for the rest of the year and into 2021 is changing.

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