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Coast Guard says ships could be in danger if buoys are hacked by cybercriminals | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker | #hacking | #aihp

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4JAX rode with the Coast Guard to learn about the buoys in the St. Johns River and what could happen to large cargo ships if cybercriminals ever hacked them.

RELATED: Jacksonville Beach opens forensic investigation after cybersecurity event impacted operations

Buoys in the St. Johns River have automatic identification systems (AIS) equipped with global positioning data. The AIS transmits a signal to digital charts used by mariners. The chart lets mariners know if they are navigating in deep enough waters as they approach or disembark a port.

Coast Guard member Michael Baldi said if the AIS is hacked, large cargo ships could end up navigating into shallow water.

“So, if any of those positions were to change, it may affect the maritime transportation being able to safely navigate the waters in certain areas,” Baldi said.

Vessels weighing more than 300 tons are also required to have an AIS which contains information like the ship’s name, last and next port of call, speed and transit route, as well as the ship’s current location.

“If the AIS on ships is hacked, it could affect major ports and knowing when certain boats are to arrive and when the pilot vessel needs to meet certain boats out at sea to safely navigate the rivers to off-load their material,” Baldi said.

That could cause delays in getting shipped goods to the port, which causes delays in loading those goods onto trucks and trains. That also delays the delivery of those goods to stores and home addresses. But cybersecurity threats are not just limited to the AIS in buoys and cargo ships.

JAXPORT is ranked the 10th largest container port in the United States and the largest vehicle handling port in Florida. News4JAX Crime and Safety Analyst, Tom Hackney said a maritime cyber attack would impact our local and global economy.

“To have that impacted anyway by a cybersecurity attack could really shut down so many things,” Hackney said.

The JAXPORT Authority issued a statement on cybersecurity threats.

“Cyber threats can impact the global supply chain at many levels; thus, JAXPORT takes cybersecurity very seriously. The port has been working to enhance cybersecurity for many years and has served as a leader in this area for the maritime industry. We are grateful for the Coast Guard’s support and leadership, as they are a strong partner for us in protecting the movement of cargo through Jacksonville.” a spokesperson said.

President Biden recently signed an executive order that expands the Cost Guards’ ability to address maritime cyber threats.

RELATED: Biden is boosting cybersecurity at US ports, where online attacks can be more ravaging than storms

“That should identify to folks just how important that particular aspect of it is for the president to see the need to put more teeth into what the Coast Guard can do because protecting those aspects is so important; giving them the latitude they need to understand and protect those assets. It’s just so critical,” Hackney said.

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