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Thursday, March 12, 2020 

According to communications technology company GTMaritime, cybersecurity at sea faces a new and highly unpredictable threat as scammers line up to exploit fears surrounding the Coronavirus at the same time as the industry moves to encourages remote working to minimise the spread of the pathogen.

“Shipping companies are looking into reconfiguring their shore-based operations in response to the spread of Coronavirus, but employees can expect to receive unsolicited messages geared to exploit their personal anxieties about the epidemic,” said GTMaritime Operations Director Jamie Jones (pictured). “As organisations ramp up physical hygiene, it is important they don’t take their eye off cyber-hygiene.” 

The company highlights email attachments that claim to contain advice on how to prevent infection. but which, when opened, drop a payload to steal confidential information. Additionally, scam websites sell bogus products, and fake emails, texts and social media posts will seek out personal information, often providing fake information about cases local to the recipient in order to request donations for ‘victims’, steal credentials or deliver malware.

“On the one hand, IT professionals working at shipping companies are at an advantage as they are already familiar with the challenges of remote working – as nothing can be more remote than a ship in the middle of the ocean,” said Jones. “On the other, they must monitor and contend with emerging risks across multiple territories rather than managing a response within a single country.”

GTMaritime recommends that shipping companies review their cyber response plans to ensure they can withstand these fresh threats. “Companies should ensure that their IT infrastructure is as robust as it can be. GTMaritime offers a comprehensive suite of solutions and provides free phishing penetration tests to its customers to bolster defences against all threats including those leveraging Coronavirus to conduct financial fraud and disseminate malware,” said Mike McNally, Global Commercial Director.

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