Maritime Cyber Threats research group

Investigating marine cyber threats and researching solutions

As a Tier 1 National UK threat, a maritime cyber-attack can cost companies millions of pounds and have a negative impact on safety and the environment. 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. This group has various funded projects for academic research, but also engages in consulting and other collaborations with industry and government internationally.
ECDIS virus screenshot with glitch

Research objectives

  • Compiling a body of knowledge for maritime cyber-threats.
  • Vulnerability and risk analysis for existing ship-based systems (IT&OT).
  • Holistic scenario-based training and cross-discipline visualisation.
  • Supply chain vulnerabilities for maritime systems and operations.
  • Cyber-security for autonomous vessels, ports, and offshore structures.
  • Policy changes for secure standards and training for next gen mariners.
  • Understanding psychological perceptions of, and responses to, threats.
  • Develop effective recovery strategies in the event of an attack.
  • Analyse cyber-physical and ship to shore/space/ship interactions.
Our cross-discipline research includes knowledge in:
  • cybersecurity, communications and network research
  • maritime policy, law, business, and economics 
  • system penetration testing, audit testing
  • data visualisation, augmented/virtual reality
  • hardware design and circuitry
  • artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning (ML)
  • maritime/naval history, 20th/21st century literature 
  • clean maritime and autonomous solutions
  • navigation and maritime science, mariner training
  • psychology.
 Find out more about our research: publications, news, and talks 

Cyber-SHIP Lab symposium 2023
International Maritime Organization, London
1–2 November

The 2023 symposium will build on the success of the previous symposia that attracted hundreds of delegates and a wide range of expert international speakers.
It will take place at the International Maritime Organization, London, on 1–2 November, with the option to visit the Cyber-SHIP Lab at the University of Plymouth on 3 November.
Marine navigational officer is using laptop or notebook at sea on ship or boat. Cyber-ship maritime.

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. Since 2016, we have used scenarios to house a number of research findings to better convey our findings (Previous examples: False AIS, Ransomware).  
More recently we have built scenarios for the UK, Australia, India, USA, and Singapore and presented these globally in various events and workshops. These scenarios encompass our research from the human element, cyber-security, engineering, data visualisation, and more.  

Lab culture

Cyber-SHIP and its researches are embedded into the wider University in order to provide cybersecurity resilience to marine and maritime technology more broadly. This includes protection for autonomous vessels, clean maritime initiatives, and more. Apart from the staff below, we are also happy to welcome visiting researchers, interns, master students, undergraduate students, and even work experience students from around the world. We promote a high-preforming, open, and diverse research culture.
A list of previous visitors is currently being created and will be linked here shortly. If you have an interest in being a visiting researcher please reach out.
Kemedi Moara-Nkwe, 

Research Fellow on the Cyber-MAR
project 2019–2022, at wheel of sailing boat.

I very much enjoyed my time at the University of Plymouth and hope we can continue working together on research projects, bids and papers throughout my career in maritime technology.

Kemedi Moara-Nkwe, research fellow on the Cyber-MAR project 2019–2022

Cybersecurity was previously a little outside my comfort zone. But that’s now changed thanks to my experience with the Maritime Cyber Threats research group. The knowledge I have gained will be extremely useful going forwards with my coursework and personal projects. Spending time with the Cyber-SHIP Lab team has been enormously beneficial and rewarding – I’ve come out of this feeling more open to doing more postgraduate study, and am more interested in cybersecurity.

Eliot New, Cyber-SHIP Lab summer 2023 microintern

It was beneficial for me as an educated seafarer to work with the Cyber-SHIP Lab team, as they are a diverse and interesting group of people, with interests in everything from governance and policy making to IT engineering and ship operation. I got to participate in both theoretical research work on cyber risk management and practical research following maritime cyber training in the maritime ship simulators. Gaining international competence has yielded opportunities for me to apply for international jobs and, after completing my PhD, I will start working for DNV, where the international experience is sure to be a benefit.

Erlend Erstad, PhD student on a research visit from Norway to the Cyber-SHIP Lab project

I am so happy and honoured to been involved in Cyber-SHIP Lab; it was the key point in my research and I am grateful for the help of the research staff.

Dr Gizem Kayişoğlu, PhD student on a research visit from Turkey to the Cyber-SHIP Lab project
Gizem Kayişoğlu, research fellow on Cyber-SHIP Lab, on the deck of a boat at sea.

Staff profiles

Marine Biology induction image of a Jellyfish. Courtesy of Shutterstock.