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 maritime 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 publications, talks, and news*

Tam K, Jones K. MaCRA: A Model-Based Framework for Maritime Cyber-Risk Assessment, Technical Report, WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs, Jan 2019 [AM]  

Fairplay survey results and what they mean for shipping [webinar]  

CyMar'2018 London 2 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 3 Aug 2018, Published online: 29 Aug 2018

BBC: "Ship hack 'risks chaos in English Channel" by Leo Kelion 7 June 2018

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

*See all publications, talks and news

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 AIS data 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