Maritime Cyber Threats research group

Investigating marine cyber threats and researching solutions

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.

Our research draws on knowledge from a wide range of disciplines across the University including:

  • security, communications and network research
  • maritime law and economics
  • marine commercialisation
  • Maritime/Naval History
  • 20th and 21st Century Literature
  • Navigation and Maritime Science
  • Psychology

Keep up to date with our research with publications, news, and talks.

Cyber-SHIP lab (2019-2021)

The Cyber-SHIP Lab has been funded for three years with a view to it then becoming self-sustaining, and will address a number of complex and interlinked issues affecting the maritime industry.

Cyber-MAR (2019-2022)

To develop an innovative cybersecurity simulation environment for accommodating the peculiarities of the maritime sector while, being easily applicable in other transport subsectors, with the view to fully unlock the value of the use of cyber range in the maritime logistics value chain. Visit the Cyber-MAR website.

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.

Maritime-Cyber Ransomware Scenario

Staff profiles