Industry News

The Aftermath of the Maersk Cyber Attack  

Despite the claims to their customers, global companies ranging from shipping lines to pharmaceutical companies are still struggling with the mess caused by the attack

Eva Caruso | M.E. Dey & Co. 

Maersk, world’s biggest container shipping line and operator of 76 ports via its APM Terminals division, was hit last week by a nasty piece of malware named NotPetya. The affects of the attack continue to wreak havoc in the international trade industry and throughout businesses worldwide.

On Monday (July 3rd), after almost a week of IT operations being down and shipments backlogged, Maersk sent out an update to their customers misleading them to believe that the majority of  their IT operations had finally returned back to some form of normality. “Our vessels remain sailing and all terminals – except one – are now functioning; importing and releasing export cargo,” Moller-Maersk said.

Despite the claims to their customers, global companies ranging from shipping lines to pharmaceutical companies are still struggling with the mess caused by the attack. The malware swept from Ukraine to organizations in more than 60 countries. Some of the worlds biggest corporate names are counting the cost of lost business following the attack. Multi-national consumer goods company, Reckitt Benckiser reported taking an estimated £100 Million hit in revenue saying the June 27th attack disrupted production and deliveries of goods to customers in several countries. Pharmaceutical giant Merck, Russian state oil company Rosneft, Brittish Advertising firm WPP and US delivery service FedEx have also confirmed they were targeted and working to recover business. 

Nearly 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea, with ships and ports acting as the arteries of the global economy. Container ships transport three quarters of this sea trade. With Maersk handling 18% of all container trade worldwide, experts report that the shipping giant could take a multi-million-dollar hit following the disruption caused by NotPetya. According to Lars Jensen, CEO of CyberKeel and SeaIntelliegence, Maersk books an average revenue of $2.9m per hour. In 150 hours of Maersk’s systems being down, $435m worth of revenues could be affected.

As systems and operations begin to recover from this massive IT breakdown, we hope that NotPetya is a wake-up call for the shipping industry. Mr. Jensen warns, in a blog posted on Monday that weak security is endemic in the shipping industry: some 44% of carriers show “signs of low levels of cyber security related to very basic elements”. He goes on to say, “It is crucial that the maritime companies look at the Maersk case and learn from it, and create more robust and resilient systems – otherwise this will not be the last time we see such challenges.”

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