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System Hacked
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Technology Update with e3 systems

Hacked

After the disappointment of the heavily under-subscribed MYBA Show in Barcelona, the Palma International Boat Show (PIBS) encompassing the Palma Superyacht Village (PSV) was excellent.  So what happened? I understand that MYBA have said that many charter yachts are not chartering this year as their owner’s plan to use the vessels themselves, or that the limited weeks they have available for charter are already filled.

As I said, PIBS 2022 was a resounding success. There were well over 70 large yachts plus hundreds of smaller vessels and toys. There was a buzz in the air from happy people, visitors, yacht crew and exhibitors. The yachts were for sale and charter and business was being done. I have never witnessed so many international visitors, and I am told there were over 300 people from the international media present. It was helped considerably by the relaxation of Covid restrictions, blue sky, sunshine, a perfect temperature, gentle breeze and the splendid backdrop of Palma with its imposing cathedral on the skyline.

For obvious reasons, we haven’t exhibited at MYBA or Palma for the last two years.  We will definitely book again for PIBS 2023, but not at all sure yet about MYBA. Clearly the primary reason for spending marketing bucks on exhibitions is to generate business.  We expected to secure business at MYBA but didn’t, whereas we went to PIBS with quite low expectations, and were frankly delighted at the results.    Interesting!!

Many people in the yachting industry, ourselves included, were wondering whether the Palma Show area may be expanded next year into STP or Astilleros to accommodate 10-15 larger yachts?

LEO satellite tech update

Starlink

In my column last month, I talked about whether Starlink could be used on a yacht at sea.  If you didn’t read it, please do so, as we were asked this same question many times at the Palma Show.

I do have an update on Starlink.  Last month I wrote:-

“We have been asked if the current Starlink residential terminal can be moved from one fixed location to another, such as from the dock at the home berth and then redeployed on the dock in another port. This is currently not possible in the beta test phase as they need to be registered at a specific location, but we think there is some development here coming from demand in the USA from the RV community.”

This development has been launched in the last month. On May 5th, Starlink rolled out a Portability $25 additional monthly fee for customers who want to temporarily relocate their sat dish.  Portability does not mean mobility. SpaceX still does not authorize customers to use the service on a moving vehicle and it cannot be used at sea.  Starlink say they will void the warranty for anyone who tries to use it on the move.

I have also learnt this month that OneWeb, the competitor to Starlink, has two launches planned in the near future, which will increase their global coverage by the end of the year.  There will be a presentation of the Kymeta u8 panel in Paris in June at the Eurosatory Defence Show using OneWeb. We are planning a beta mobile test on a yacht later this year.

Cyber Security Threats are increasing dramatically!

Cyber Threats

Currently cyber-attacks are on the increase.  Beware – this is getting serious. There is an organic growth in people and organisations expanding their attack strategies and techniques, as they are seeing good results and unfortunately now the Russian war is feeding it.  As a result, we all need to be considerably more vigilant. To be honest, too many of us are pretty blasé about this, but here at e3 we have witnessed a number of real-life attacks on yachts which have been expensive and scary.

Have you heard of Predator Theory?  This is what is happening right now, and our colleague Richard Hodder of Pelion Consulting wrote about this very eloquently in Onboard Online last month.  He wrote:

What is Predator Theory? 

Humans are the most successful predators to have ever existed, unrivalled by no other species. They have the ability to work in teams to attack teams of the same species. Predator Theory suggests that as humans we are more adapted to attacking than we are at defence.

As he says we are not adapted to defend ourselves from attack, particularly attack strategies that change continuously.  We need to develop our defence and adapt it rapidly.

Attacks are happening frequently now.

Here are some recent examples.

From our own experience at e3, our office firewall defences are identifying spam and phishing emails many times every day.

Just last week we got phishing emails from a yacht client who had been hacked and from a partner who had been hacked for the second time.

We have had two brute force attacks on our server over the last year. We have protection built in, but we still need to keep it updated.  One of the brute force attacks originated from South Korea, but that’s as close as we could get to identifying the source.  They hit our login with thousands of automatically generated password attempts in seconds before our systems automatically detected it and shut down.

We came across a 70m yacht that suffered a malware attack on their duplicated and isolated ECDIS system.  They thought they were safe with a stand-alone, duplicated ECDIS system which was not connected to the yacht’s network.  However, the yacht’s primary navigation system became inoperable when they were at sea.  The source of the problem was discovered to be the captain’s laptop which had been infected by a malware attack.  He was using his laptop to download the chart updates and transferring them, together with the malware, on a USB stick to the ECDIS system.

Ransomeware-Technology

A hack on a captain’s email earlier this year was a lucrative result for the hacker.  We had completed a job on a yacht and were waiting for payment before we activated the service. The yacht was in a hurry to get the service activated as guests were due and kept chasing us, but we still hadn’t received payment.  The yacht said it had been sent, we asked for the bank transcript and discovered the yacht had sent payment to some 3rd party bank account.  The yacht captain’s email had been hacked and monitored, and an email was intercepted from their management company on which our bank details were changed by the hackers.  The captain made the transfer to the hacker’s bank account and, by the time this was discovered, the money had been transferred out of the rogue account.

In March, ANONLEAKS a German group affiliated to the Activist Hacker ANONYMOUS tampered with the AIS data from Putin’s yacht Graceful changing its position, call sign and destination.  It can easily be done and is a threat to safety.

A scary ransomware test was proven a few years back on the 64m yacht White Rose of Drachs when a live GPS spoof took place in the open sea with no land in sight, and the captain and crew on the bridge were none the wiser. This was a test under controlled conditions, but in reality, the yacht could have been taken to a different location with a rendezvous, turned dead ship, intercepted and even had owners and guests kidnapped!

People are the weakest link in the cyber security chain.  A large new build with 35 crew contracted our colleagues to carry out a penetration test.   The yacht had been in build for 2.5 years and they had invested a lot in cyber security.  Our colleagues got into the systems on-board in 3 hours! They decided the system installation was done very professionally and that it would probably be easier to penetrate the yacht’s systems by finding the key to the front door via the crew.  They identified some of the crew, tracked them on social media and followed up a few who were very active, hacked them and found their passwords stored on their personal device!

Yachts broadcasting wi-fi SSIDs!   At the Palma Show last week I sat on our booth and scanned the wi-fi SSIDs being transmitted by all the yachts on the dock.  There was a huge list! A hacker can have a field day, take control of the yacht, do whatever he/she likes then wipe the data to erase any evidence of what he/she had done.

 What is the risk & why do they do it?

Financial gain, ideological motivation, corporate espionage, opportunism, maybe a malicious insider. None of this is helped by the recent press reports about the outrageous costs of the Russian oligarch’s yachts.

What are the biggest threats?

Email accounts for 94% of attacks this last year.

Sadly, I think these few examples are just the tip of the iceberg!  This is becoming a real issue and could happen to you or the yacht tomorrow.  If you would like some help to build your defence strategy we would be happy to guide you.

Roger Horner

Technology Update - e3 systems

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