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NEWS: Cyber-SHIP lab launched to address security challenges

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A unique new research facility designed to address the key cyber security challenges facing the shipping industry is being established at the University of Plymouth. Shipping, like terrestrial vehicles, is incorporating increasing levels of autonomy, with fully autonomous vessels on the horizon.  These, like smaller data collection marine autonomous vehicles, will increasingly transmit data via satellites, requiring additional focus on the cyber security of data transferred.

The £3 million Cyber-SHIP Lab, supported by funding from Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation, and industry, will bring together a host of connected maritime systems currently found on an actual ship’s bridge.

Experts in cyber security and information systems will then assess them for weaknesses, and identify the human and technological changes needed to make them secure for the future.

The Lab is being developed and delivered in partnership with key industry sectors including equipment manufacturers, solution developers, shipping and port operators, ship builders, classification agencies and insurance companies.

It will feature cutting-edge maritime technology including radar equipment, a voyage data recorder (VDR), an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), an automatic identification system (AIS) and communications devices.

It will complement the University’s existing world-leading maritime facilities, which include a state-of-the-art simulator dedicated to training professional seafarers, and a lab examining latest advances in cyber security.

The creation of the Cyber-SHIP Lab is being coordinated by researchers from the University’s Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group and Centre for Security, Communications and Network Research, which between them combine leading multidisciplinary research and practical expertise from across the University and beyond.

Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean for Science and Engineering and Principal Investigator for the Project, said:

“The creation of the Cyber-SHIP Lab is a transformational step towards developing a national centre for research into maritime cyber-security. It will support a range of research and training that cannot be achieved with simulators alone, and also facilitate the development and delivery of new maritime cyber provision for graduates, postgraduates and industry.

“Cyber-attacks are a Tier 1 National UK threat. Although the maritime sector is advancing technologically, it is not well protected against cyber or cyber-physical attacks and accidents. Worth trillions, it has an unmatched reach across international waters, which exposes people and goods to a diverse range of factors, putting the shipping industry at high risk. As such, this facility has never been more timely.”

The Cyber-SHIP Lab, which has been funded for three years with a view to it then becoming self-sustaining, will address a number of complex and interlinked issues affecting the maritime industry.

It will take into account both technological and human behavioural aspects in order to effectively mitigate threats, especially considering the huge variation in vessel types, which can be subjected to cyber-attacks in differing ways for differing motivations.

It will support the delivery of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, develop ongoing relationships between academia and external partners, consolidate and create new international collaborations by allowing shared access to facilities, and act as a key enabling facility in support of the economic growth ambitions of the Oceansgate development in Plymouth.

Funding is being provided from the Research England Development (RED) Fund which supports strategic projects aiming to implement innovations in research and knowledge exchange.

Please contact Cyber-SHIP Project and Knowledge Exchange Manager Chloe Rowland at chloe.rowland@plymouth.ac.uk for any enquiries.


Sharon Addinall
Centre Administrator
Sharon has worked within the health sector undertaking administration and management for the majority of her career and prior to joining the Centre, she ran her own business as an Editor for a local magazine.
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