Maritime Cyber Threats research group


As a Tier1 National UK threat, cyber-attacks can cost companies millions in a maritime cyber-attack. As the world heavily depends on maritime operations, we at the University of Plymouth have been researching maritime cyber-threats as few organisations have the capability, connections, and facilities to do so. This group is uniquely placed to make significant contributions in maritime cyber-security and brings together leading-edge multidisciplinary research and practical expertise from across UoP and beyond.

Current projects

  • Compiling a body of knowledge for maritime cyber-threats.
  • Vulnerability and risk analysis for existing ship-based systems.
  • Threat assessment for ship operations and human decision making.
  • Supply chain vulnerability for maritime operations.
  • Cyber-security for autonomous vessels.
  • Process and training to protect mariners and ships against cyber-attacks.
  • Understanding psychological perceptions of, and responses to, threats.

We continuously engage in discussions and collaborative research with academia, government, and industry in areas related to maritime cyber-threats.  We have access to the University ship simulators, and the team is in active collaboration to secure the Mayflower Autonomous Ship project and creating relevant maritime-security training.

Upcoming Events

June 1st Maritime Cyber Threats and Awareness Symposium 

CyMar'18 aims to bring together key players in the maritime industry, research, and policy-making within the maritime community to discuss aspects of today’s maritime cyber threats, risks, and security, and how to improve the current state and the future. Email contact below for an invite

June 21st Marine Tech Expo

Plymouth is hosting its second Marine Tech Expo, designed to showcase the city’s marine credentials across the world in the run-up to the Mayflower 400 celebrations in 2020. The event will bring together decision makers involved in the latest marine innovations in blue technology at the University of Plymouth.

Recent Talks and Publications

Tam K, Jones K. Cyber-Risk Assessment for Autonomous Ships, Cyber Security, 2018

Tam K, Jones K. MaCRA: A Model-Based Framework for Maritime Cyber-Risk Assessment, Technical Report, April 2018

Jones K presented at the Cyber Security Panel Debate at MECSS 2017. Nov 2017

Jones K, Tam K. Maritime Cyber Risk [slides], UK Security Expo 2017, Maritime &Transport security Conference. Nov 2017

Tam K, Jones K. Maritime Cyber Risk: Model-Based Assessments for the Global Fleet [slides], at MRS 2017, US Merchant Marine Academy, and Rutgers. Nov 2017

Future Cities London Forum: Maritime cyber-attack will cost our cities, Oct 2017

Jones K, Tam K, and Papadaki M. Threats and Impacts in Maritime Cyber Security, IET Engineering & Technology Reference. April 2016

Interview and Scenarios

Prof Kevin Jones comments on the issue of Maritime Cyber Security, the very real threats this poses to maritime economies, and the vectors, methods, and motives of the attacks. This ties into the following scenarios:

False AIS: Not all cyber-attacks are "flashy". In this scenario, an attempt to steal data accidentally corrupted anti-collision data (AIS) causing a phantom ship to appear. Even if a system goes back to behaving normally, the system may continue to be compromised until fixed.

Ransomware:  Hackers can use this to hold hostages for ransom. This can have unique outcomes in the maritime environment, such as locking crew or passengers in their rooms or locking controls.

Staff profiles