New device protects superyachts from ‘cyber-pirates’

Ship bridge

A British company has developed an award-winning ‘magic box’ that protects superyachts from increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks executed by so-called ‘cyber-pirates’.

Computer Network Defence’s ‘Osprey’ device was created to combat the threats high net-worth individuals face while on board their superyachts.

Having provided cyber-security on vessels for a number of years, the company says it realised that a new form of technology was required, especially for smaller vessels, which lacked the infrastructure to host traditional services.

It developed a briefcase-sized appliance that constantly monitors threats and reports them to the Computer Network Defence (CND) team. Staff are on duty 24/7 at the company’s HQ in Corsham near Bath and its specialist security centre on the Isle of Man, and they take the necessary actions to eliminate threats.

Osprey recently won the Techies Award for the Most Innovative Tech Solution.

Protect superyachts from cyberattacks

This year’s Dubai International Boat Show heard how cyberattackers were now considered a new type of pirate — the cyber-pirate — and boat operators were increasingly concerned.

While designed for superyachts, CND says the Osprey can protect any sea-going vessel, no matter how large.

“Superyachts face specific threats over and above those that other maritime vessels face,” says Andy Cuff, CND’s managing director. “Environmental, anti-wealth and political activists have superyachts in their sights, as do blackmailers, nation-states, hostage-takers and business competitors.

“There is also a community of amateurs who keep tabs on superyachts for a variety of purposes.

“These superyachts are like cities at sea, with a vast array of technology from GPS and electronic chart displays to information systems to communication devices. The crew and guests have their own tech on board, and the potential for hacks is huge unless the cyber-security is of an extremely high standard.

“We send our Osprey box to the superyachts, and the crew simply plug them in, and we configure them from our office.

“We communicate with the crew and management companies through email, text and phone calls so they are aware of any situation as it develops.

“There is a growing awareness about the cyber-threats to superyachts and sometimes when a problem is identified the crew overreact because they are not specialists and have little time. With the Osprey on board they can concentrate on their main jobs, reassured that their cyber-security is being looked after.”

Some hackers have more righteous aims: in 2022, a group of hackers renamed the superyacht reportedly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘FCKPTNand changed its destination to ‘hell’ by manipulating its maritime data.

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