Maritime Cyber Threats research group


As a Tier1 National UK threat, a maritime cyber-attack can cost companies millions of pounds.

As the world heavily depends on maritime operations, we at the University of Plymouth have been researching maritime cyber-threats as few organisations have the capability, connections and facilities to do so. 

This group is uniquely placed to make significant contributions in maritime cyber-security and brings together leading-edge multidisciplinary research and practical expertise from across the University and beyond.

Research objectives

  • Compiling a body of knowledge for maritime cyber-threats.
  • Vulnerability and risk analysis for existing ship-based systems (IT&OT).
  • Threat assessment for ship operations and human decision making.
  • Supply chain vulnerability for maritime operations.
  • Cyber-security for autonomous vessels, ports, and offshore structures.
  • Process and training to protect mariners and ships against cyber-attacks.
  • Understanding psychological perceptions of, and responses to, threats.
  • Develop effective recovery strategies in the event of an attack.
  • Analyse ship-to-port cyber and cyber-physical interactions.

Recent publications, talks, and news*

Jones, K, Norshipping: Saftey at sea cyber security rountable, 5 June 2019 Oslo 

Tam K, Jones K. 'Factors Affecting Cyber Risk in Maritime' and 'Forensic Readiness within the Maritime Sector', IEEE  C-MRIC Cyber SA, Oxford, June 2019 

Tom Crichton, Maritime Cyber Presentation at the International DryBulk Terminals Group , Barcelona April 2019

Tam K, Jones K. MaCRA: A Model-Based Framework for Maritime Cyber-Risk Assessment, WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs, Jan 2019 [AM]

BBC: 'Ship hack 'risks chaos in English Channel' by Leo Kelion 7 June 2018

*See all publications, talks and news

Interview and scenarios

Professor Kevin Jones comments on the issue of Maritime Cyber Security, the very real threats this poses to maritime economies, and the vectors, methods, and motives of the attacks. This ties into the following scenarios:

False AIS: Not all cyber-attacks are "flashy". In this scenario, an attempt to steal data accidentally corrupted AIS data causing a phantom ship to appear. Even if a system goes back to behaving normally, the system may continue to be compromised until fixed.

Ransomware: Hackers can use this to hold hostages for ransom. This can have unique outcomes in the maritime environment, such as locking crew or passengers in their rooms or locking controls.

Staff profiles