CYSEC SA, a cybersecurity company from Switzerland, has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a solution mitigating the cyber risks related to ship tracking using satellite communications.
The digital revolution also impacts the shipping industry by integrating automated navigation, cargo-tracking systems and digital platforms which facilitate operations, trade and the exchange of data. To achieve this transformation, the mitigation of cyber security risks is critical.
There are vulnerabilities in many existing maritime communication systems that could lead to dramatic consequences when under a cyber-attack. In particular, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) provided by multiple satellite constellations has been the subject of spoofing and jamming attacks that led to a partial or total loss of the ability to locate ships at sea. Such a failure can be disastrous if the ship is, for example, navigating narrow straits or near the shore. Another critical piece of equipment on board is the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which tracks every ship in the world and whose data is used by numerous organizations and downstream services such as insurance companies. Ships have used multiple techniques to tamper with AIS data and entered zones from which they are legally excluded, for fishing or performing other illegal activities.
Both GNSS and AIS signals use satellites and are regarded as critical to improve the safety of maritime navigation and the reliability of data for downstream services. Using its family of secured servers and its experience in satellite communications, CYSEC SA will lead a feasibility study to investigate the protection of both GNSS and Satellite-AIS (SAT-AIS) communications.
CYSEC SA has established a consortium to develop and test the potential solutions composed of U-blox, a global provider of leading positioning and wireless communication technologies for the automotive, industrial, and consumer markets; and Gomspace, a globally leading designer, integrator and manufacturer of high-end nanosatellites for customers in the academic, government and commercial markets. The team will work under the guidance of both ESA and European maritime stakeholders.
CYSEC’s objective of securing maritime communications is a natural extension of its current activities in IoT and Space, where its flagship product ARCA is already used to protect communications to satellites and connected devices on ground.