Since the start of the Covid epidemic, cyber-attacks on one of the world’s busiest ports have nearly doubled. The number of monthly attacks on the Port of Los Angeles has risen to roughly 40 million, according to the port’s executive director, Gene Seroka.
Los Angeles is the busiest port in the Western Hemisphere, with more than $250 billion in cargo handled each year. According to Seroka, the threats are believed to originate mostly in Europe and Russia and are intended to harm the US economy.
“Our intelligence shows the threats are coming from Russia and parts of Europe. We have to stay steps ahead of those who want to hurt international commerce,” he told the BBC’s World Service.
Every year, seaports move billions of dollars in products, making them a particular target for cybercriminals.
They are subjected to ransomware, malware, spear phishing, and credential harvesting assaults on a daily basis, with the goal of causing as much damage as possible and slowing economies.
The Port of Los Angeles is now collaborating with the FBI’s cyber-crime division to prevent assaults and strengthen cyber-security. The port has spent millions of dollars on cyber security, including the establishment of one of the world’s first Cyber Resilience Centres, which is part of the FBI.
“We must take every precaution against potential cyber-incidents, particularly those that could threaten or disrupt the flow of cargo,” said Mr Seroka.
The Cyber Resilience Centre improves intelligence collection and protects the maritime supply chain against cyber-threats.
It serves as a hub for the port to receive, analyse, and communicate information with dock users such as cargo handlers and shipping lines.
Global supply chains slowed during the pandemic as lockdowns stopped workplaces and workers were compelled to stay at home. According to Mr Seroka, the strain on supply networks has since subsided. In January 2022, 109 container ships waited for more than two days to enter the Port of Los Angeles. Today, there are approximately 20 ships waiting to dock.
However, Seroka estimates that the bottlenecks will not be totally removed until 2023.
“There’s so much cargo coming in and not enough space,” he said.
“The past two years have proven the vital role that ports hold to our nation’s critical infrastructure, supply chains and economy. It’s paramount we keep the systems as secure as possible,” he added.
(Adapted from BBC.com)