Elcome International has created a new secure tool to prevent viruses, malware or corrupted files from entering ships’ navigation computers.
Elcome Bridge Protect provides a simple and economical method to ensure secure file transfer without the need for passwords or fingerprint verification. The package includes a special protected USB 3.0 dongle and custom client software that prevents the introduction of infected files into ECDIS and other networked ship systems when downloading electronic charts and updates.
The growing dependence of the shipping industry on automation electronics and digitization increases the risk of introducing cyber “bugs” into ships and onshore infrastructure. Cyber attacks in the maritime industry have increased by over 900% over the past three years, ranging from the introduction of malware causing browsing errors to full-blown denial of access ransomware.
“A main potential entry point for cyber infections on board ships is downloading from coastal networks,” explained Kostiantyn Matvieiev, senior director, graphics and publications at Elcome. “Electronic Nautical Charts (ENC), Notices to Mariners (NtM) and software updates are delivered to the ship via satellite links while underway or on DVD while in port. Usually a USB stick is used to load these files into the ECDIS computer. If a commercial unprotected USB flash drive is used, it can potentially introduce corrupted files, which can spread throughout the ship’s interconnected network with devastating results.
Bridge Protect client software automatically locks the flash drive with a low level file system that leaves no empty memory space on the USB storage medium, thus preventing the inadvertent transfer of harmful files to the ship’s computer.
Bridge Protect can be incorporated as part of the safety management system stipulated by International Maritime Organization (IMO) resolution MSC 428 (98) and becomes a mandatory part of the annual verification of the company’s compliance document , which entered into force on January 1, 2021..
“As the shipping industry shifts from paper charts and publications to electronic media, there is an increasing risk of disabling cyber attacks that can threaten vessel safety at sea. Elcome is committed to harnessing advanced technologies to protect ship systems and lighten the workload of crews without compromising the safety of navigation, ”said Jimmy Grewal, Executive Director of Elcome.