cyber-SHIP lab

  • £3.2 million hardware-based, fully configurable maritime IT&OT cyber security research platform
  • Individual ships’ bridges, or system-of-systems’ cyber resilience evaluation across all ship classes
  • Actionable research outputs: knowledge tools and training addressing maritime cyber security issues from hardware to software to people

Cyber-SHIP Lab is a unique, hardware-based maritime cyber security research and development platform.

The vessels, infrastructure and people that facilitate international maritime supply chains, on which 90-plus percent of the world trade and economic security depends, rely on an unusually disparate, sometimes dated, and increasingly autonomous collection of information and operational technology (IT&OT).
Cyber-SHIP Lab’s research is focused on building cyber threat resilience in this uniquely complex, valuable and vulnerable sector.
Anywhere there is IT&OT and people, there are cyber security vulnerabilities. This, of course, includes ship and port systems and the humans that operate or supervise them.
In partnership with industry, government and NGOs, Cyber-SHIP Lab’s researchers analyse and address cyber security at the hardware, software, and human levels to identify, understand and mitigate threats. We publish actionable research and develop practical tools and training.
Part of the University’s Maritime Cyber Threats research group, Cyber-SHIP Lab currently evaluates ships’ physical IT&OT systems, and systems-of-systems across all ship classes.  
In the medium-term, Cyber-SHIP Lab’s research objectives will move on to include cyber threats around ship/port interactions, autonomous vessels and port systems, and enabling secure-by-design maritime systems across the supply chain. We anticipate this work will have wider application into offshore operations and transport infrastructure.
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Cyber-SHIP Lab video walkthrough

Join us for this virtual tour of the University of Plymouth's £3.2m, Research England and Industry-funded Cyber-SHIP Lab. Discover more about our unique, hardware-based, configurable research, software development and training platform.

Cyber-SHIP Lab in detail

We undertake and share fundamental research into cyber audit and attack visualisation using advanced approaches, including artificial intelligence. This vital work informs development of meaningful solutions and mitigations. The Lab provides a space for demonstrations and informs outreach and training. It enables maritime cyber security best practice and policy adoption, helping to secure international supply chains, economies, and seafarers' lives.
Cyber-SHIP Lab is supported by Research England and maritime industry partners, including fleet owners and operators, equipment manufacturers, classification societies and insurers.
Cyber attacks cost maritime companies millions, threaten national security and endanger lives.
While cyber security is relatively well understood in most sectors despite rapid adoption of digital and technology in the maritime sector, it is not well prepared to meet and mitigate cyber and cyber-physical attacks and accidents.
Cyber-SHIP Lab addresses this by building understanding, tools and training to deal with the complex and interlinked cyber security issues in the unique maritime context.
Researchers from the University of Plymouth’s Maritime Cyber Threats research group and its Centre for Cyber Security, Communications and Network Research lead the Cyber-SHIP Lab project. This combines multidisciplinary research and practical expertise from across the University and beyond. It builds on our extensive track record of research in areas including:
  • threats and impacts across maritime cyber security
  • cyber risk assessment for ports, offshore installations and autonomous ships
  • model-based frameworks for maritime cyber risk assessment
  • maritime cyber security auditing and test-bedding 
  • maritime cyber security policy, including the scope and impact of evolving technology on international shipping
  • how autonomous and augmented realty technologies impacts cyber-physical risks.
Cyber-SHIP Lab
cyber-ship lab
cyber-ship lab

Creating ships systems’ physical twins in the Lab

Cyber-SHIP Lab brings together an endlessly configurable host of connected maritime systems found on ships’ bridges – equipment commonly deployed across international fleets, configured and re-configured in vessel or vessel-type-specific layouts. It can effectively become a physical twin of any ship’s bridge and associated OT.
Cyber-SHIP Lab provides insights that cannot be gained in the virtual world through simulation alone.
The Lab’s unique hardware-based testbed complements the University’s fleet of nine ship simulators and our cyber ranges. Research outputs – including real-world attacks on non-virtual machines – are used to make researchers’ and crews’ simulator experiences much more realistic and useful for training as well as securing devices.
Uniquely, this means we can use the Cyber-SHIP platform to determine physical systemskey vulnerabilities under a range of cyber attacks. It enables development and demonstration of safeguards at technical, system and operational levels. This is a world-first capability that empowers our researchers and industry partners to improve global shipping security. 

Work with us

Industry and wider maritime sector related collaboration is a key feature of the project. Cyber-SHIP Lab is currently working with numerous maritime and maritime-related sector partners, including ship operators and companies involved in the supply of hardware and software, construction of ship’s bridges and training and management of personnel. We are also working with classification societies and government cyber security agencies.
Such industry engagement is vital. It is only by working with those in the sector that we can develop solutions applicable in the real world.
We are seeking additional partners to collaborate with us in building maritime cyber threat resilience. Whether your interest is in shaping collaborative research, meeting future training needs, or ensuring systems’ resilience, please contact Cyber SHIP-Lab Project Manager Chloe Rowland to discuss how your organisation can join us in this pioneering maritime security project.
Executive Dean for Science and Engineering and Principal Investigator for the Cyber-SHIP Lab Project.
“Cyber-attacks are a tier-one National and international threat. And although the maritime sector is advancing technologically, it is not well protected against cyber or cyber-physical attacks and accidents. Worth trillions, Maritime has an unmatched reach across international waters, which exposes people and goods to a diverse range of threats, putting the shipping industry at high risk. This is why Cyber-SHIP Lab is so important.”
Professor Kevin Jones, Plymouth Pioneer

Our people

UK Aviation, Maritime and Security Minister’s message of support for Cyber-SHIP Lab

In 2021, Robert Courts MP, Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security opened Cyber-SHIP Lab’ with a message of support and encouragement.
“This unique new research facility will further enhance the University’s world-leading maritime facilities, building on Plymouth’s strong maritime history to ensure the UK is at the forefront of the future maritime sector.”
He added: “I am so pleased that the Cyber-SHIP Lab will play a crucial part in tackling the cyber security challenges facing the shipping industry.”

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Cyber-SHIP Lab vault
cyber-SHIP lab
Cyber-Ship Lab displays