University of Plymouth signs agreement with Information Risk Management Ltd to address maritime cyber security

Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, with Andy Jones, Head of Training & Development, and Charles White, Chief Executive Officer, from IRM Ltd

Two organisations with extensive expertise across the maritime sector have agreed to work together to maintain the UK’s place at the forefront of maritime cyber security thinking.

The University of Plymouth and Information Risk Management Ltd (an Altran UK company) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will see them join forces on a range of research projects.

They include assessing the current vulnerability of the current maritime sector to cyber-attacks, and developing industry standards which ship personnel will need to adhere to in the future.

The agreement states that since ships are responsible for carrying 95 per cent of UK imports and exports, an effective, robust and reliable maritime sector is critical to the UK economy.

The sector is increasingly dependent on globally connected systems to meet a growing international trade market, and the UK maritime sector accounts for in excess of £10bn revenue and employs more than 100,000 people.

Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Plymouth, said:

“The extent of global dependence on shipping for trade means it is essential the industry is resilient against the threat of cyber-attack. There have been emerging examples of ships being targeted in this way, and I hope this partnership will make tangible process in developing systems and standards that will ensure we can ward off such incidents in the future.”
Charles White, Chief Executive Officer of Information Risk Management Ltd, added:

“Having spent a great many years help protect critical national infrastructure I am delighted to announce a collaboration between IRM and the University of Plymouth, who I regard at the forefront of research into maritime technology. The cyber security threat to the shipping trade and naval operations is growing exponentially as there is an ever increasing reliance on technology. This partnership, combining expertise in many technical disciplines is born of a desire to make a real difference to such a critical part of the world’s economy.”
The University of Plymouth is a world class maritime university. It runs a range of maritime courses while its Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group brings together leading multi-disciplinary research and practical expertise from across the University and beyond.

IRM Ltd is based in Cheltenham and has 19 years of cyber security expertise across many sectors. Trusted by over 750 customers in 25 countries and numerous divisions of UK Government, IRM’s expertise highlights vulnerabilities whilst reducing risk across people, places, interactions, processes and technology.

The new partnership will aim to make noteworthy progress in the understanding of cyber risk and its mitigation, through key research areas including: vulnerability analysis for existing ship-based systems; threat assessment methodology for ship-based operations, including human decision making; supply chain vulnerability for maritime operations; process and training tools/courses to decrease cyber-attack vulnerability; understanding psychological perceptions of, and response to, risk and threat; and the development of assessment (certification) standards for future ship based cyber security personnel.

Maritime Cyber Threats

The Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group brings together leading-edge multidisciplinary research and practical expertise from across the University. Current research interests include:

  • Vulnerability analysis for existing ship-based systems
  • Threat assessment for ship-based operations, including human decision making
  • Supply chain vulnerability for maritime operations
  • Process and training to decrease cyber attack vulnerability
  • Understanding psychological perceptions of, and responses to, risk and threat.

Bridge of a ship
Graduating students on Plymouth Hoe