DP World hacks put focus on national cyber security strategy

Ongoing cyber attacks at DP World Australia have highlighted the importance of maritime cyber security according to an RMIT Professor.

The breach was being investigated as DP World began opening its landside gates at terminals in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Professor Matthew Warren, Director RMIT Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation said the incidents had highlighted the havoc these disruptions can cause the whole country across several states.

“The cyber incident is an ongoing investigation and not much is known at the moment, but we will find out more as the facts unfold,” said Warren.

“The incident is impacting operations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle. Any disruption to docks could potentially disrupt Australia’s supply chain.”

Terminals were currently prioritising delivery of the longest dwell time imports and the receival of exports for vessels in order of arrival.

Truck servicing times are slow with transport operators expected to liaise closely with their customers about pending delays and what is still thought possible to collect given the circumstances.

Warren said the Government’s new approach to cyber security incident handling and the key role that Australia’s National Cyber Security Coordinator, will be key in dealing with a cyber incident of national significance such as this.

“What it shows is the new energy that the government has with dealing with a national cyber incident,” he said.

“Australia’s new cyber security strategy will be launched in the next few weeks and again this will reinforce a new approach to handling cyber security from a whole of nation perspective.

“It must introduce more regulatory controls to allow the government and industry to work together when there is a cyber incident of national significance.”

Meanwhile no official statement had been forthcoming from DPWA’s corporate headquarters to customers and stakeholders, many of which were awaiting an update concerning the opening of the terminal at Fremantle.

It was yet to be determined whether DP World’s systems had been simply “patched” to prioritise getting containers moving again, or whether this represents a full recovery of systems.

The National Road Transport Association has urged operators to be patient as DP World battles to bring its systems back online after Friday night’s cyber-attack.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said operators scheduled to move freight to or from the company’s ports had received a message over the weekend that Monday’s slots were cancelled.

“It’s frustrating but there’s nothing operators can do until the company restores its systems,” said Clark.

“There will obviously be some prioritisation for critical freight such as medical supplies but everybody is in limbo right now.”

Clark called for DP World to freeze its planned increase in charges at Port Melbourne, slated for January, and to look at other ways to compensate operators who would suffer loses as a result of the cyber breach.

“If the disruption continues for days as predicted, the impact will snowball,” said Clark.

“DP World will need to apply common sense and not apply the usual fees and penalties.”

Last week DP World Australia came under fire for having purportedly “artificially reduced profits” to avoid paying any corporate tax for eight years.

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