GTMaritime Sees Cyber Security as Decisive For Data-Driven Opportunities

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By Richard White, Global Commercial Director, GTMaritime

When I joined GTMaritime in September 2022, the growing prevalence and massive potential of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite networks was already a major topic of discussion in the maritime community. Eighteen months later, the subject has come to dominate connectivity conversations in the shipping space.

Earlier in my career, vessels were all-but closed networks, with short emails representing the limit of modernity in terms of ship to shore communications. Now, we have the bandwidth to transfer data in volumes that were previously unimaginable. IoT-connected devices, real-time CCTV, and video calling are increasingly common features on vessels today – with benefits resulting for efficiency, safety, and crew welfare.

Increasingly, LEO has played a significant role in this evolution.

Nevertheless, despite the evident gains, caution is also needed: with ships more connected to the outside world than ever before, they are also more vulnerable to cyber threats.

LEO like a fast car – it needs suitable brakes

No longer closed networks, ships which take advantage of bandwidth to support the ‘floating office’ approach to business communications are also witnessing a surge in targeted attacks. But if issues arising from a cyber breach can be reasonably straightforward onshore, within close reach of IT support, dealing with them on a vessel operating in a remote location presents a far greater challenge. 

Furthermore, the impacts of communications loss caused by a cyberattack is far more severe at sea: there are serious implications for vessel safety and efficiency, let alone consequences for supply chain disruption.

Security standards on cyber security inevitably take their lead from industries based ashore but, at GTMaritime, we are convinced that extra protection is needed at sea, in light of the crucial role ships play in supporting the global economy.

Cyber-risk management requirements into force by the International Maritime Organization in 2021  and new IACS unified requirements on cyber resilience which enter into force in July this year, are a good starting point. However, in our experience, organisations may only pay sufficient attention to cyber risk once they have fallen victim to an attack. 

In GTMaritime’s view, changing this mindset is a vital to shipping’s response in accommodating its voracious appetite for more data. As a leading provider of solutions and services which keep ships and their crews safely connected 365 days a year, GTMaritime guides customers through compliance but also helps them to look beyond the regulations to secure network and asset protection.

As well as ensuring our clients have the data and means to update and maintain their IT assets in line with regulatory requirements, for example, we offer them a Phishing Penetration Test allowing them to gauge their employees’ vigilance towards phishing threats. 

The Phishing Penetration Test is available free of charge to users of GTMailPlus, which integrates seamlessly with tools designed for shore-based operations, such as Office 365, and adds a layer of maritime-optimised security with features to protect against phishing, zero-day threats, and viruses.

Our dedicated cyber solution goes a step further. Developed in partnership with CrowdStrike, it delivers end-point detection and response capabilities; next-generation anti-virus software; on- and offline protection; and a centralised control, management, and audit dashboard.

Another key part of the GTMaritime offering is the ability to throttle data and prioritise transfers, thereby avoiding bottlenecks and ensuring that the most important data is sent to shore first.

In my view, having LEO connectivity on board a ship is like owning a fast car: to enjoy it, you need an airbag and suitable brakes – and that is what we aim provide through our maritime-optimised solutions.

Success built on trust

Our vision is to deliver a comprehensive toolkit for vessel IT managers, covering everything they need to ensure secure and reliable data transfer between ship and shore – and ultimately help their companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, safety, and crew welfare.

In pursuing this objective, we work with all kinds of vessel owners – not just the major global brands but also the smaller, family-run businesses that make up the majority.

It is the latter group that generally requires our support the most – and to which we owe much of our success. Today, GTMaritime software features on board more than 17,000 vessels – or 25% of our addressable market – belonging to over 2,000 owners. It helps approximately 100,000 users send a total of more than one million operational emails every day.

We have been able to achieve such impressive figures by developing relationships and trust with ship owners – and by building a client list that has allowed us to diversify and evolve our offering quickly and successfully as requirements have changed.

Our broad customer base vindicates our reputation as a  globally trusted partner for shipping which, by continuing to be the IT’s manager’s best friend, helps its customers seize opportunities and minimise the threats of an increasingly connected maritime industry.

Looking ahead, we plan to continue our global expansion to provide a local presence across the world’s major shipping hubs, ensuring our growing client base has access to the same level of support no matter where they are based or where their vessels are operating. 

To that end, we have recently opened an office in Greece, which joins our existing bases in the UK and Singapore, and added dedicated resources in the Middle East and Hong Kong.

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