The Maritime Transportation System ISAC Releases Its 2022 Annual Report

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WILMINGTON, DE — Last Friday, the nonprofit Maritime Transportation System Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MTS-ISAC) released its 2022 Annual Report. The MTS-ISAC, whose stakeholders’ operations span 6 continents and over 160 countries, focuses on maritime cyber threat information sharing to help provide early warning of the cyber-attacks taking place against the maritime community. The report highlights the incredible progress its community of stakeholders made to improve cyber risk management across the maritime transportation system (MTS) community, including key milestones and results achieved during its third year of operations.

The MTS-ISAC’s stakeholders are excited about the MTS-ISAC’s nonprofit mission and how it executed on that mission throughout 2022. Larry Medrano, the Cybersecurity Manager for the Port of Corpus Christi stated “We leverage our partnership with the MTS-ISAC to understand change in the attack surface, assess new cyber risks, and continually advance our information security management systems to align to the shift in the cyber threat landscape. Through this partnership, we remain vigilant on new tactics, techniques, and procedures by cyber threat actors and ensure our cyber program remains malleable to the threats of tomorrow.” The Digital Container Shipping Association’s Henning Schleyerbach added, “The MTS-ISAC provides our members with valuable insights into cyber threats that pose risks to modern shipping operations.” And Leigh Carr, Senior Director for Maritime Cyber Safety at Carnival Corporation reinforced this point stating, “The MTS-ISAC gives us access to a nimble and cooperative cybersecurity community filled with actionable threat data and information security experts from across the sector.”

Serving as the maritime sector’s information exchange center of excellence, 2022 proved to be both a diverse and fast-paced year for cyber threat activity as threat actors interested in geopolitical events, financial gain, information theft, and espionage regularly targeted the MTS. Timely, actionable, and relevant threat data proved to be a difference maker for the MTS-ISAC’s stakeholders.

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Highlights from 2022 included:

  • First quarter shares to the MTS-ISAC rose by 58% over the previous quarter, with 73% of stakeholders contributing critical insights to new and increased cyber activity targeting the sector.
  • The MTS-ISAC produced over 1,100 indicator bulletins, an increase of over 50% from 2021, and released 75 maritime cybersecurity advisories to enhance situational awareness.
  • A collection of “Information Exchanges (IX),” seven of which were operationalized within the MTS-ISAC in 2021, generated 20% of the inbound intelligence shares.
  • Cyber threat and best practice awareness across the community grew due to the MTS-ISAC offering quarterly threat intelligence briefings, webinars and participation in events hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard, Caribbean Shipping Association, Global MTS Cybersecurity Symposium, and others.
  • The fourth annual Maritime Cybersecurity Summit brought over 100 stakeholders to Brooklyn, New York for keynotes provided by Ms. Beth Rooney, Port Director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Mr. Guirec Duperrin, CISO Americas for CMA CGM, and two tracks dedicated to key topics advancing the state of cybersecurity in the MTS.

“Our community is growing and maturing, improving the cyber resiliency of the MTS. Through a variety of sharing – threat information, best practices, templates, lessons learned, and the list goes on – our stakeholders are acting to improve resiliency, not just talking about what needs to be done,” stated Scott Dickerson, the MTS-ISAC’s Executive Director. “Our stakeholders’ drive and focus on supporting this community mission makes a positive difference. It helps organizations to counter cyber-attacks and ultimately is making the movement of goods and people across the MTS to occur in a more safe and secure manner.”

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The MTS-ISAC Annual Report was issued on the heels of the U.S. White House releasing its latest National Cybersecurity Strategy. Among the strategy efforts the U.S. Federal government mentioned as important are ones the MTS-ISAC’s public and private stakeholders have successfully collaborated on improving for years inside the highly international maritime sector, including:

  • Making MTS cyber defense easier, cheaper, and more effective through: actionable, relevant and timely sharing of threat information; leveraging lessons learned, templates and information on best practices; and offering effective solutions at nonprofit price points.
  • Improving resiliency by ensuring actionable threat information related to cyber-attacks is known across the community the same day as it is occurring, which limits how widespread a successful attack may be and limit the impacts.
  • Defending critical infrastructure by enabling public-private collaboration at the speed and scale necessary to defend critical infrastructure and essential services through the use of automated information sharing across its maritime stakeholder community.
  • Investing in a diverse and robust national cyber workforce through its internship program to ensure students are able to obtain real-world cybersecurity analyst experience prior to graduation.
  • Forging international partnerships to pursue shared goals, which is increasing the capacity of MTS-ISAC partners to defend themselves against cyber threats. The MTS-ISAC works with security allies and partners on an ongoing basis to improve the sector’s cybersecurity posture.

There is no panacea in cybersecurity, but there are measures proven to be effective. The maritime sector needs more national level leaders across the sector to be proactive in their support of the successful information sharing efforts taking place.

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