The truth about...

As boats and the threats to them get ever more com­plex, MBY takes a look at some of the lat­est se­cu­rity is­sues you might want to con­sider

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents -

Plea­sure boat own­ers of all sizes are con­sid­ered wealthy and there­fore a po­ten­tial target for any­thing from theft to pos­si­ble kid­nap­ping and ran­som. Com­pared to rob­bing a house or a car, boats present a rel­a­tively soft target – they are of­ten left unat­tended, their se­cu­rity sys­tems are usu­ally quite ba­sic and re­sponse times are slow. Com­mon sense and a lit­tle ef­fort are the main de­fence against crime. The gas locker is nei­ther an orig­i­nal nor se­cure location to hide a cabin key. Nav equip­ment is valu­able, easy to re­move and easy to sell so en­sure it’s not left in the cock­pit. Small out­board en­gines are a pop­u­lar target for thieves so se­cure them with a lock. Lit­tle will de­ter the re­ally de­ter­mined thief; your job is sim­ply to make steal­ing from your boat more has­sle than it’s worth. There are also so­phis­ti­cated anti-theft de­vices like the Do­ken­sip Boat Mon­i­tor that alert you if mo­tion sen­sors are trig­gered or the boat moves out­side a ge­ofence.

Is piracy a gen­uine risk for leisure boat own­ers?

Harry Chenevix-trench, op­er­a­tions man­ager at Black­stone Con­sul­tancy, a pri­vate se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence spe­cial­ist, says piracy is cer­tainly a threat in some ar­eas of the world. Most of those classed as ‘red-alert’ zones are out­side the scope of smaller mo­tor boats, such as the Philip­pines, the Gulf of Aden and west Africa. How­ever, some parts of the Caribbean are cat­e­gorised ‘am­ber’ (re­quir­ing cau­tion) and even the south­ern and eastern re­gions of the Med have be­come in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous due to con­flicts in Libya and Syria and the in­creas­ing use of wa­ters around Si­cily and Gi­bral­tar by peo­ple traf­fick­ers.

How does one mit­i­gate the risk?

Make use of lo­cal knowl­edge and avoid ar­eas deemed dan­ger­ous. A check-in sys­tem where boats report their po­si­tion reg­u­larly is also worth con­sid­er­ing, as is GPS track­ing. Be aware of AIS, which trans­mits not just your po­si­tion, head­ing and speed but also boat in­for­ma­tion like name, size and type. There may be times when it could be pru­dent to switch this off.

How about in port?

In some ar­eas, har­bours and mari­nas can rep­re­sent the great­est sin­gle con­cen­tra­tion of in­ter­na­tional wealth in the en­tire coun­try. Guide books, the in­ter­net and in­deed lo­cal knowl­edge such as ma­rina staff or port se­cu­rity can of­fer good ad­vice about where and when it is safe to ex­plore.

What else should be con­sid­ered?

On-board wifi net­works that cover the whole boat are a pop­u­lar op­tion but can mean the sig­nal reaches fur­ther than the boat, rais­ing the risk of cy­ber at­tack. Mau­r­izio Mi­nossi from Marine elec­tron­ics spe­cial­ists Vide­oworks says, “On-board sys­tems are man­aged by VLAN, of­ten via the same in­ter­net en­try/exit point (VSAT, 4G etc). As all traf­fic goes through the same por­tal, a hacker gain­ing ac­cess is a risk to the en­tire net­work, from AV sys­tems through to alarms, air con, en­gine man­age­ment, se­cu­rity doors and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems.”

No it’s not. Dur­ing a con­trolled ex­per­i­ment in 2013, stu­dents from the Univer­sity of Texas were able to spoof the GPS sig­nals of a su­pery­acht and send it veer­ing off course with­out arous­ing any sus­pi­cions what­so­ever. In a dif­fer­ent trial in 2017, a cy­ber crime spe­cial­ist work­ing for a mo­bile de­vice com­pany hacked into a yacht’s wifi con­nec­tion and gained con­trol of vi­tal func­tions, in­clud­ing the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and on-board CCTV. Many own­ers con­duct pri­vate and pro­fes­sional busi­ness while on board. This makes their per­sonal data such as email ad­dresses, photos or bank ac­count details vul­ner­a­ble to mal­ware and phish­ing. A risk could come from an un­sus­pect­ing guest or crew mem­ber down­load­ing a virus that self-in­stalls and spies on pass­words, or even hi­jacks the phones and com­put­ers us­ing the net­work.

What is the best way to pre­vent cy­ber at­tacks?

Proven se­cu­rity soft­ware with endto-end en­cryp­tion and two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion helps se­cure on-board sys­tems. Vide­oworks rec­om­mends sys­tems like its Ke­rio Con­trol, an all-in-one threat and con­nec­tion man­ager able to pro­tect the yacht’s server via an In­tru­sion Pre­ven­tion Sys­tem (IPS) that mon­i­tors en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing net com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

What about crew?

Crew should be trained in dig­i­tal se­cu­rity pro­to­cols so that they don’t in­ad­ver­tently put the boat and guests at risk by post­ing photos of it on so­cial me­dia, open­ing emails from sus­pi­cious par­ties or in­sert­ing USB or disc drives into the boat’s sys­tems

Your job is to make steal­ing from your boat more has­sle than it’s worth

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