Guidelines for Modern Maritime OT Cybersecurity

The Evolution of Operational Technology (OT) and Emerging Cyber Risks

Today’s maritime OT landscape has evolved dramatically, integrating new IT capabilities into existing physical infrastructures, enabling improved cost efficiency and performance. This evolution has birthed various “smart” technologies, improving connectivity and operational efficiency but at the same time introducing significant new risks. As a result, traditional security measures such as physical controls and complete network isolation are no longer sufficient, as these intelligent technologies meld with older systems and simplify pathways for potential exploitation. To best protect both legacy and digital assets, the following security measures are suggested:

Hardening OT Networks: Best Practices

  • Network Segmentation and Access Control: implement demilitarized zones (DMZs) and enforce strict access controls to sensitive OT areas.
  • Audit and Replace End-of-Life Software; where software cannot be replaced, introduce complete isolation and/or additional monitoring measures to mitigate risks.
  • Update firewalls and VPNs and deploy additional lines of defense since actively exploited critical vulnerabilities are frequently found with the leading firewalls and remote access solutions.
  • Upgrade Legacy Protocols: modernize outdated communication protocols to bolster security.
  • Secure Remote Access Points: conduct thorough connectivity inventories to identify and secure all remote access points.
  • Restrict Tools and Scripts: limit network and control system tools and script usage to authorized users performing legitimate tasks.

Smart Port Technologies and the Increased Ship-To-Shore Risk Landscape

In the past two years, ports have adopted new telecommunications technologies, such as 5G cellular networks, enhanced Wi-Fi, expanded satellite constellations like Starlink™, and network modules for microcontroller-based devices. These advancements have facilitated more extensive system connections within the network, boosting bandwidth and reducing latency. Such technologies have revolutionized ship-to-shore operations from crane management to container logistics and physical access controls, enabling a highly digitalized supply chain.

However, the broad connectivity and increased automation of port operations magnify the potential impacts of a cybersecurity breach. Recognizing the risks associated with Smart Port Technologies and implementing stringent security measures are crucial for maintaining the safety and reliability of global port operations.


The maritime industry faces a dual challenge: embracing technological advancements for enhanced operational efficiency while mitigating the growing complexity of cyber threats. Comprehensive cybersecurity strategies and solutions prove paramount as the sector becomes more interconnected. The maritime community must prioritize continuously improving cybersecurity practices to safely navigate these turbulent waters.

About the Author

Ronen Lago is a seasoned tech leader with over two decades of experience in advanced intelligence systems and cybersecurity. He has served as CTO and Head of R&D for top-tier companies like Daimler AG and Lockheed Martin, leading global development teams across fields including IoT, SCADA, and AI. A veteran of an elite military intelligence unit, Ronen holds an M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and Business Management, blending deep technical expertise with strategic acumen.

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