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The Maritime Transportation System ISAC Releases Its 2023 Annual Report

Stakeholders Contribute a Record Number of Shares and Participate in an Expanded Maritime Cybersecurity Summit


2023 MTS-ISAC Annual Report
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On Friday, the nonprofit Maritime Transportation System Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MTS-ISAC) released its 2023 Annual Report. The MTS-ISAC, whose stakeholders’ operations span 6 continents and over 160 countries, focuses on maritime cyber threat information sharing to help provid



e early warning of the cyber-attacks taking place against the maritime community. The report highlights the continued progress its community of stakeholders made to improve cyber risk management across the MTS community, including key milestones and results achieved during its fourth year of operations.

 

The MTS-ISAC’s community minded stakeholders remain steadfast about the MTS-ISAC’s nonprofit mission and contributed nearly 2,300 shares in 2023. Sean Walsh, Senior Director, Information Security for Matson Navigation Company, Inc., an MTS-ISAC board member and founding stakeholder, stated, “While it is nearly impossible for companies to protect themselves against all cyber-attacks, having situational awareness of threat activity helps businesses take prudent measures.” Donald Brown, the Cruise Lines International Association’s Senior Vice President of Maritime Policy added, “When we partnered with the MTS-ISAC, our cruise line members instantly benefited from collaboration with other maritime stakeholders and visibility into cyber threat activity targeting the broader maritime sector.”

 

Continuing to serve as the maritime sector’s information exchange center of excellence, 2023 proved to be both a diverse and fast-paced year for cyber threat activity. Nation-state threat actors were motivated by geopolitical tensions and criminal threat actors targeted the sector with multiple ransomware campaigns, at a time when the maritime industry continues to modernize and rely on a record number of third-party digital integrations. This activity underscored the importance of timely, actionable, and relevant cyber threat intelligence, best practices shared by subject matter experts, and virtual and in-person collaboration opportunities. 

 

MTS-ISAC highlights from 2023 included:

  • The receipt of 2,284 intelligence shares for analysis and production of 1,330 MTS indicator bulletins and 69 cybersecurity advisories. Phishing analysis trends highlighted that MTS executives were most frequently targeted followed by financial and IT employees.  

  • Cyber threat and best practice awareness across the community grew due to the MTS-ISAC offering quarterly threat intelligence briefings and webinars on insider risk management, the escalating threat of ransomware, review of commodity malware and phishing challenges in the MTS, and others.

  • MTS-ISAC working groups collaborated and delivered two guides on zero trust and effective rules for blocking phishing emails. The MTS-ISAC held an inaugural Capture the Flag event and brought together 80 players forming 32 teams across 8 countries to test their knowledge and enhance their skills by better understanding the methods used by attackers to achieve their goals.

  • The Cruise Lines International Association joined the MTS-ISAC’s collection of Information Exchanges, and existing Information Exchanges grew their membership. The MTS-ISAC’s Critical Infrastructure Partners Information Exchange (CIP-IX) saw new members, including the Global Maritime Cybersecurity Consortium (GMCC), ABS Group, and Red Vector joining alongside Cyware and Booz Allen Hamilton.

  • MTS-ISAC staff participated in events hosted Carnival’s Maritime Cyber Safety Summit, The Global Maritime Cybersecurity Symposium, National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA)’s Fall Meetings, and The Cyber-SHIP Lab / IMO Symposium.

  • From November 13-15, several stakeholders shared insights about their cybersecurity challenges and identified best practices during the 5th Annual Maritime Cybersecurity Summit in Miami, Florida. The Summit focused on delivering maritime cybersecurity practitioners with information and practical solutions to strengthen their core programs and reduce risk. A Practitioner Training Day, supported by the GMCC, provided practical insights on how to effectively apply and integrate cybersecurity best practices into a variety of program areas.

  • The MTS-ISAC and its stakeholders also continue to work with a variety of international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), and national government agencies, among others, to inform their cybersecurity guidelines and recommendations, proposed regulatory changes and implementation plans, and others on the realities, challenges, and practical aspects of international cybersecurity program efforts.

 

“The MTS-ISAC’s first four years were focused on creating a foundation of community, trust, and knowledge and information sharing for the maritime transportation system. While we are growing our program capabilities and community, we remain committed to providing cyber threat intelligence and effective strategies to help our stakeholders more effectively manage cyber risks to their organizations” stated Scott Dickerson, the MTS-ISAC’s Executive Director. “Information sharing for the first two months of 2024 has increased by eight percent over the same time in 2023. We are grateful for all the support we have received since inception.”

 

The MTS-ISAC recently announced that their 2024 Maritime Cybersecurity Summit will be held in Houston, Texas on November 19-20 with a dedicated training held on November 21. The call for speakers is open, and sponsorships are available.

 

The MTS-ISAC Annual Report was issued on the heels of the U.S. White House releasing its latest Executive Order to “bolster cybersecurity of U.S. Ports” and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Cybersecurity in the Marine Transportation System and new Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 02-24: Reporting Breaches of Security, Suspicious Activity, Transportation Security Incidents, and Cyber Incidents, among other government announcements and efforts focused on the MTS.

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