Maritime Cyber Threats research group


As a Tier1 National UK threat, a maritime cyber-attack can cost companies millions of pounds.

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 the University and beyond.

Current project opportunities

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.

Help us by taking this survey on martime cyber [open until March 2019]

Join us in creating the Cyber-SHIP Lab

CyMar'19 [details to come]

Research objectives

  • Compiling a body of knowledge for maritime cyber-threats.
  • Vulnerability and risk analysis for existing ship-based systems (IT&OT).
  • Threat assessment for ship operations and human decision making.
  • Supply chain vulnerability for maritime operations.
  • Cyber-security for autonomous vessels, ports, and offshore structures.
  • Process and training to protect mariners and ships against cyber-attacks.
  • Understanding psychological perceptions of, and responses to, threats.
  • Develop effective recovery strategies in the event of an attack.
  • Analyse ship-to-port cyber and cyber-physical interactions.

Recent talks and publications

Cyber-podcast by the Honourable Company of Master Mariners (HCMM) with Kevin Jones

MARITIME INFORMATION WARFARE November 26th 2018 London United Kingdom

Cyber Security 2018 - the Fairplay survey results and what they mean for shipping [webinar] and IHS Saftey at Sea Magazine "Detecting The Risks" November 2018

Tam K, Jones K. Maritime cybersecurity policy: the scope and impact of evolving technology on international shipping [AM].  Journal of Cyber Policy, Accepted 03 Aug 2018, Published online: 29 Aug 2018

Identifying Cyber-Threats, Devonport Naval Base Engineering & Science Forum, June 2018

 Marine Tech Expo  "Maritime Cyber Risk" June 21st 2018

 Maritime Cyber Threats and Awareness Symposium, CyMar June 1st 2018 Plymouth

Presentation to South West Company of Master Mariners, “Big Ships, Big Data and Big Risks” - A Beginners Guide to Maritime CyberSecurity. May 25 2018.

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  [email for access]

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

Jones K, Tam K. UK Security Expo 2017, Maritime & Transport security Conference. November 2017

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

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

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

Interview and scenarios

Professor 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