Maritime cyber security ship simulator

An academic from the University of Plymouth has won a prestigious international accolade for her research underpinning a suite of software tools designed to enhance maritime cyber security.

Dr Kimberly Tam, Lecturer in Cyber Security, won the overall prize – and the dedicated cyber category – in the 2021 Lloyd’s Science of Risk prize.

The prize is awarded to academics and PhD students who, through their scientific work, further the understanding of risk and insurance.

Dr Tam’s award was in recognition of her work on the Maritime Cyber Risk Assessment (MaCRA) framework, which she developed in conjunction with the University’s Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group.

The principles behind the MaCRA framework were first set out in a study published in the WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs in 2019, and co-authored by Dr Tam and Executive Dean of Science and Engineering, Professor Kevin Jones.

The paper proposed a dynamic risk assessment model that uniquely takes into account both information technology and operational technology, both of which are prevalent in sectors like transportation and critical national infrastructure.

The University was then awarded a grant from the Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRI-UK) initiative to develop it as an industry-ready solution that ensures crucial cargo keeps reaching the UK’s shores.

It is the second award the software has won in just over a week after it triumphed in a Cyber Den competition run as part of the UK government’s flagship cyber security event, CYBERUK.

Dr Tam said:

“Receiving the overall 2021 Lloyd’s Science of Risk prize is a big honour. It shows there is real appreciation of the growing threat of cyber-crime, and the importance of addressing the challenges it could pose for the globally important maritime sector.
"The paper looks at ways the physical and cyber worlds affect each other, and how shifting our concept of risk to be more dynamic can be a useful tool moving forwards in a more connected world.”

Kimberly Tam (square)
Dr Kimberly Tam, Lecturer in Cyber Security

The judging panel included Dr Trevor Maynard, Lloyd’s; Alison Robinson, NERC; Iveren Yongo, Travellers; George Beattie, Beazley; Julia Graham, AIRMIC; and Ben Oppenheim, Metabiota.

They chose the winning entry as they collectively felt that the applicability and ease of uptake on the suggested framework for the insurance market was the strongest out of all the themes.

They also highlighted the major contribution of the paper in the cyber arena as the research not only aids insurers, but also helps ship owners and operators prioritise, aggregate, and understand the evolving risk landscape.

Dr Trevor Maynard, head of Innovation at Lloyd’s said:

“The Science of Risk prize is an important route for expert insight to come to the Lloyd’s market and raise awareness of exemplary academic research work of interest to the insurance community. Cyber, climate change and, of course, pandemics are highly relevant and growing areas of risk, so we’re pleased to have received many thought-provoking submissions for this year’s prize. I’d like to congratulate Kimberly on her work, and I’m delighted to award her Lloyd’s Science of Risk prize for 2021.”