How big is the threat of a cyber-attack to a yacht?
“There’s a large threat to a yacht and there is a clear and present danger. One of the key things to understand here is why do criminals want to target superyachts? What is their motivation?
This is mainly driven by criminality. The criminal is after a payday and that payday is cold, hard cash. That may be for any number of things- it could be that they’re after money, or they could be looking to intercept superyacht transactions, as we’ve heard about in the media before. It could be that they’re using the superyacht as an access point to other things. We’re talking here about highly organised criminal gangs. Every strata of capability when it comes down to criminality from organised crime gangs all the way down to teenage kids sat in their room and every level of competency. It’s not, unsurprisingly, one person taking one thing at one time, it’s layers and layers and layers of people targeting superyachts and other businesses at the same time in order to work out what we can do because they want a pay day at the end of the day”
Are they attacking a yacht because it’s easy or fun?
“It’s all of the above- they’re motivated by money, mischief and mayhem. It’s perceived that superyachts are magnets for wealth therefore they’re easy targets. We also see an issue of lackadaisical security- superyacht owners think they’re safe, they go there to relax and actually their businesses may be hardened to an attack but it doesn’t mean that their superyacht is afforded the same level of security and resilience.
One thing the criminal wants to achieve is not to get caught. The key point is that if they can get in and do something and get away with no one knowing, that’s great. On a superyacht, something may have already happened that you don’t already know about. Criminals may look to target superyachts for the access they can get- who owns it, who do they know, what’s the network they can get into. They’re often thinking ‘if I can get into a superyacht, there’s one opportunity and if I can sit and be patient and watch, that could lead to 10-15 other opportunities.’ It’s a patience game.
How can Artificial Intelligence help?
“If you’re not looking for it you won’t know. Systems could already be infected. So, what can you do about it?
Devices and networks churn out log files as a register of what’s happening. This could be thousands and thousands and thousands of data points per day- humans just can’t keep up.
There are not enough people to be able to analyse all of that information to say ‘that is not right’. Which is where Artificial Intelligence comes in and there are a number of threat detection systems available on the market.
Hackers are using AI; and to fight AI you need to use AI.
Humans just can’t keep up.
In summary, there are 2 key point to take away;
Firstly, you’ve got to be looking for it.
And secondly, you’ve got to understand the technology that’s at your fingertips if you’re really serious about making sure you can, not only detect it, but be able to do something about it.” Michael Wills, co-founder and chief data officer for CSS Platinum.
Taken from “Cybersecurity- countering the growing threat” Panel at Superyacht Investor London 2022