While superyachts offer formidable physical security, their computer and IT systems can be quite vulnerable. With the ever-increasing capability of digital connectivity at sea, it is now easier than ever for guests and yacht crews to stay connected anywhere and anytime, but the same technology could be providing an unexpected level of risk.

At the yacht’s building stage, more focus is often placed on the performance, aesthetics, cinema systems and exterior speakers than on its IT security system, which, if ignored, could easily compromise the privacy of guests, crew and data.

Everyone has their own personal opinion of cybersecurity, some embracing and accepting what must be done to support safety, while a large majority simply opts not to talk about the ‘dark arts’ of cyber security in the hope that nothing will happen to them. However, with the high-profile nature of superyachts and their guests, it’s no surprise that they are often targeted more than one may expect.

Most of the today’s on-board systems are all connected, managed on a VLAN by a switch, in many cases running through the same internet entry/exit point – the VSAT, 3G, 4G etc. This means all internet traffic goes through the same portal, so a hypothetical hacker gaining access via a malicious email or a boundary hack also represents a risk for the entire network of shipboard systems, from AV systems through to alarms, air conditioning, engine management, security doors, navigation and monitoring systems.

As evidence of this point, in 2013 a group of marine security, professionals demonstrated how easy it would be for them to take control of the navigation system of a superyacht in the Mediterranean Sea by “spoofing” its GPS guidance signal. The captain and crew had no idea what was going on, while control of the vessel was taken from right under their noses! You cannot worry only about the possibility of compromising your yacht’s operational systems. There can be all kinds of sensitive data on board the yacht’s computers that cyber-criminals would just love to get access to. Many yacht owners do personal and professional business while onboard, and that kind of data is very desirable for hackers. We’re talking about private data such as e-mail addresses, photos, videos or even bank account details.

It doesn’t matter how good the technology is and how good the governance regimes are, cyber-attackers can usually find a breach. It is proved that over 90 per cent of successful cyber-attacks in 2016 involved a person inside a company compromising system security without knowing it. The majority of attacks come through phishing emails. We’re starting to see more and more sophisticated mails: personalised messages designed to attract the interest of the receiver and trick him into opening an attachment. Once the malicious software gets into a device it is too late. Its connection to the superyacht’s IT allows the attacker to freely move inside the system, penetrating as deep as it can and gaining access to as much information as possible.

In recent years, one of the most common attacks is the “Ransomware” type. This is a kind of cyber-attack where the “malware” takes over your ability to access and operate your computer, or your boat’s computer system, or even a singular photo or video until you pay a “ransom” (money) to remove the damaging malware. Risks within the sector are currently growing faster than defences are. People should start taking measures to try and manage the dangers. Gartner reveals that by 2020, we will have 13,5 billion connected devices, without mentioning the fact that half of all the most relevant business processes will be based on some IoT element. We know that these intelligent devices are not flawless and that they could represent an exceptional opportunity for hackers.

Within the next few years, hackers will be able to spy into houses using cameras integrated into TVs, consoles, baby monitors, tablets and smartphones. It will be possible for them to turn off a fridge, activate air conditioning, sabotage cars and even more. The Internet of Things will become the Internet of Vulnerability. All of this may sound like science fiction, but it’s indeed true. The ever-increasing interconnection of our systems and devices, if not well secured, will lead to serious damage to our economy. All that people can do is try to mitigate the effects of future attacks by hiring a superyacht security specialist to carry out a vulnerability assessment, identifying the gaps and ensuring that a complete end-to-end solution is implemented.

Luckily, Videoworks can offer a precautionary solution to protect the yacht’s delicate digital system against hacker attacks with Kerio Control. This solution, once properly installed is able to protect the yacht’s server through an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), which monitors both entering and exiting net communications, thus shielding the servers from unauthorised connections, such as those originated from bots or hackers, thus protecting the network from malware or unwanted downloads. Traffic control occurs on different levels, through protocol analysis, content analysis and content confrontation with a constantly updated rule database. With regards to antivirus systems, Kerio integrates the well-known Sophos software. This antivirus is able to scan all the traffic that goes through the appliance, including all of the e-mail attachments. Sophos also automatically updates itself with the latest virus definitions.

In addition, Kerio Control has notable features such as Load Balancing, allowing for easy prioritising and monitoring of network traffic to guarantee high-speed transmission for the most important traffic types. Internet Link Load Balancing optimises internet access by distributing traffic across multiple links. Kerio Control monitors link availability and automatically disables or re-enables links to ensure continuous Internet access. Kerio Control also uses Internet Link Load Balancing to distribute specific users onto specific connections. Kerio Control offers also Kerio Web Filter, a technology complementary to the anti-virus gateway that allows administrators to allow, deny or limit the applications, websites and internet services users can access. This powerful filter:

· Protects users and infrastructure by preventing visits to known malicious sites or those that engage in phishing attacks or identity theft.

· Blocks objectionable sites to ensure compliance and shield you from liability.

· Increases productivity by limiting access by application or site content category to a specific time of day, selected users, and specific user locations.

This, combined with Cisco’s “high network” devices such as Aironet Access Points, Catalyst Switches and 4000 series routers, guarantees an outstanding defence against cyber-attacks. These solutions ensure protection during all the attack’s phases: before, during and after the attack. Videoworks integrates all this technology in its systems in order to extend corporate security to your branch and defend your network. With integrated security, you get protection against sophisticated threats, while maintaining outstanding performance and lowering costs.

Press Release by Videoworks
For more information, contact:
Sara Stimilli
Communication & Marketing Director
Videoworks: s.stimilli@videoworksgroup.com