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.

If interested Human-Autonomous interraction in the maritime sector, please consider taking this survey to share your opinions.

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 activity [see all]

Cyber-MAR H2020 Project Kick-off-Meeting

Jones, K, Norshipping: Safety at sea cyber security roundtable, 5 June 2019 Oslo 

Tam K, Forshaw K, Jones K D. "Cyber-SHIP: Developing Next Generation Maritime Cyber Research Capabilities", International Conference on Marine Engineering & Technology Oman (ICMET Oman) [accepted Sept 2019]

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

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

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