Maersk Line briefly crippled by major ransomware attack

Maersk Line was unable to take bookings globally on Wednesday after a sustained cyber-attack by Petya ransomware that forced it to cancel some port calls and “shut down” IT and communications infrastructure as a security measure.
Maersk Line was unable to take bookings globally on Wednesday after a sustained cyber-attack by Petya ransomware.
Maersk Line was unable to take bookings globally on Wednesday after a sustained cyber-attack by Petya ransomware.

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Maersk Line was unable to take bookings globally on Wednesday after a sustained cyber-attack by Petya ransomware that forced it to cancel some port calls and “shut down” IT and communications infrastructure as a security measure.

“Access to most ports is not impacted, however some APM Terminals are affected and gates are closed. Cargo in transit will be offloaded as planned. Import cargo will be released to credit customers,” the shipping line said in a statement carried by SupplyChain 247.

Petya is thought to have disrupted 17 of APMT’s terminals, including Los Angeles, Rotterdam and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai, leading to some confusion and congestion. APMT was unavailable for comment.

Fear of cyber-attacks has grown recently in the logistics industry. It rose to sixth on the list of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2017, after entering the list in 2014.

Jody Cleworth, CEO of blockchain-based forwarder Marine Transport International, said: “We are facing our Y2K moment. It shows that legacy systems are outdated and simply no longer fit for purpose.”

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The logistics industry is particularly vulnerable as there are so many stakeholders involved in a single supply chain, and one weak link can open the entirety to attack.

“The industry is in very poor shape when it comes to cyber security. It needs awareness among senior management – this is not an IT issue. Firewalls and anti-virus software will not keep out dedicated attacks. If you think you haven’t been hacked – you are wrong,” says Lars Jensen, CEO, SeaIntelligence Consulting and CyberKeel.

TNT Express for example, is also said to be a victim of the attack, suffering some warehouse operation issues, but was unavailable for comment.

However, this threat can be eliminated by using blockchain, a global distributed ledger, currently being examined by Maersk.

“It is open to anyone, where anything of value like money, containers, bills of lading, location and routing information, are stored and managed securely and privately,” Martyn Walker, of Agility Sciences, told The Loadstar.

“Trust is established through mass collaboration and code, rather than by powerful intermediaries like governments, banks and corporations. “A Trojan attack like this would not have had any impact. Blockchain runs in a sterile environment. The only way to get data in is through the chain – but an attack wouldn’t work, and it would also leave clues for forensic scientists.”

In the wake of the Maersk Line attack, MSC Shipping, a partner in the 2M Alliance, issued a statement reassuring customers that all its operations were continuing as normal.

MSC said it was offering “full support” to Maersk and they were “working together to find other means to transmit data between the two companies. This includes information such as vessel bayplans, load lists, and customs information”.

“If necessary, the 2M partners are prepared to divert ships from terminals which are not currently operating as a result of the attack,” said MSC.

A key component in the cyber defence for such attacks is having a solid plan for re-installing everything from back-up; something ArabianSupplyChain looked at earlier this week. How quickly Maersk will get back online is unknown.

Analysts estimate that the ransomware attack may cost the shipping line as much as US $100-million per day.

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