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Managing Risk In The Superyacht Industry

  • by: Conor McKeon
  • On: 19, Apr 2022
6 min read

In the last decade, the superyacht industry has boomed. Of course, with the growth of any luxury market also comes an increase in security issues within that market.  

While pirates have been a threat to marine vessels ever since we first invented the boat, now yacht owners and managers must deal with a new threat: hackers. 

All industries, including the marine industry, have moved more online in the last few years. The need for online service and support was made clear in 2020, and the superyacht industry has had to pivot to a more online service model, as well as general operations while at sea.  

Safety management systems are now online, and communication and navigation are done via the internet. This has generally made things safer and more reliable, but it does open up yachts to new threats like cybercrime.  

As we move into an increasingly uncertain future, superyachts, their owners, and their manufacturers will likely become targets for malicious activity.  

There are new risks that must be managed if the superyacht industry wants to retain its reputation.  

Risk in the superyacht industry 

Piracy 

The oldest threat to the marine industry is unfortunately just as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago. As things become more desperate for people around the world, the promise of wealth, perfectly captured in the form of a nearby superyacht is hard to ignore, driving many to piracy.  

Cybersecurity 

If someone manages to hack into a yacht’s network, they can potentially take control of the navigation system, communications system, and surveillance systems, all of which can aid with physical attacks.  

Supply Chain Disruption 

Throughout the pandemic, virtually every industry on the planet has suffered some form of disruption to its supply chain. The industry may need to re-evaluate how it operates as we move forward into a world where speed is the number one priority for all customers.  

How to manage risk in the superyacht industry 

Identify all threat vectors and assess your defences  

You can’t protect yourself if you don’t know what threats you face. Carrying out a full audit of your cyber security, entry points, fuel, supply chain access, durability, staff, and other vulnerabilities will show you exactly where you stand, and where you need to improve.  

This allows you to build a practical risk assessment and strategy for moving forward, as well as being able to manage all risks end-to-end.  

Unfortunately, given the world we live in, everything must be analysed, from the management company to the fuel supplier to the engine manufacturer.  

From here, you can begin to assess which threats are most likely to be faced, on specific voyages, in specific conditions, and begin investments to improve protection where it will be needed most.  

Remove human error wherever possible 

Employees across the entire manufacturing and management process must meet a high standard of work and knowledge about the end product. 

It is now essential that cyber security awareness should be included in basic training. Human error is the number one cause of cyberattacks, so crew and support staff must be trained in cyber security awareness and always follow best practices. Cyber security must be given equal importance as fire safety, survival techniques, and first aid if a modern yacht is to stay safe. 

Accountability is also crucial. Roles and responsibilities for all those on board the yacht and in the management, company should be made clear, along with penalties for those who fail to comply with the procedure. With everyone clear on what they need to do, and the proper education and training, there should be fewer opportunities for cyber-attacks and other issues to occur.  

Ensure robust security 

Whether physical or virtual, security is the number one deterrent to bad actors.  

Bringing on additional security personnel and surveillance equipment, as well as the most up to date cybersecurity can help prevent attacks just by being there, rather than repelling any attacks. 

Criminals will usually do some research or reconnaissance before attempting anything, and if it’s clear that you’re a tougher target than someone else, you’ll be left alone.  

Times are changing for the superyacht industry and the marine industry. While staying compliant with the new legislation is the first step towards security, the industry must go above and beyond to ensure the reputation of the industry and the protection of its clients.  

Learn more about creating a sustainable workforce for the marine industry, or read about marine sustainability trends 

 

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