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GPS Jammers, Other Maritime Cyber Security Threats Discussed At Seminar

Maritime cyber security seminar
Vice Adm. Chuck Michel, USCG, addressing the Seminar and Symposium on Maritime Cyber Security

By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security

The Learning Seminar and Symposium on Maritime Cyber Security, co-sponsored by Rutgers University and American Military University (AMU) enters its second day today on the campus of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.

Command, Control, and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA) and AMU are hosting the event that covers a wide range of maritime cyber security issues, national security and data breaches. The seminar features several keynote speakers from the U.S. military, maritime cyber security, national security, and homeland security arenas.

Capt. David Moskoff of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy was a keynote speaker on Monday at the seminar. A Master Mariner and expert on maritime cyber security, Capt. Moskoff informed the seminar’s attendees about potential threats to the Nation’s ports and maritime entities.

He warned of a “Denial of Service Attack,” involving the use of “jammers” to disrupt the GPS systems of maritime vessels, effectively rendering the vessels’ communications useless. GPS technology is utilized in the maritime industry for commercial ship navigation and port communications. Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard uses GPS to protect American maritime borders.

Capt. Moskoff spoke of the danger of hostile actors using simple GPS-jamming devices, which are readily available from the Internet. Such “jammers” could “paralyze ship traffic and operations at U.S ports, and that would cause just one port an economic loss of $1 billion per day,” stated Capt. Moskoff. Since the maritime industry relies almost exclusively on automated technology, oil rigs and tankers are at risk from maritime cyber threats.

“Currently, North Korea is the world’s biggest jammer of GPS,” said Capt. Moskoff.

Other speakers on Monday included Tony Cole of FireEye who stated that “malware is the weapon of choice” for cyber attackers and a “single target attack could be catastrophic.”

Speakers at the seminar and symposium on Tuesday include: Vice Adm. Chuck Michel, USCG; John Duncan, ABS Group; Capt. Peter Crain, Maritime Cyber Security SME; and Professor Clay Wilson of AMU.

The seminar and symposium has a free live stream for virtual attendees.

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