IACS offers cyber protection recommendations

Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter · 02 October 2018


Following extensive cross-party collaboration within the shipping industry IACS has recently published nine of its 12 twelve recommendations on cyber safety with the aim of enabling the delivery of cyber resilient ships whose resilience can be maintained throughout their working lives. These eagerly anticipated recommendations are the result of a long-term initiative from IACS that has benefited considerably from cross industry input and support.

IACS initially addressed the subject of software quality with the publication of UR E22 in 2006. Recognising the huge increase in the use of onboard cyber-systems since that time, IACS has developed this series of Recommendations with a view to reflecting the resilience requirements of a ship with many more interdependencies. As a result, the IACS Recommendations address the need for a more complete understanding of the interplay between ship's systems, protection from events beyond software errors and the need for an appropriate response and ultimately recovery.

In order that the appropriate response could be put in place, a means of detection is required.

IACS also recognised at an early stage that, in order for ships to be resilient against cyber incidents, all parts of the industry needed to be actively involved, and so convened a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Cyber Systems. A significant part of the JWG work has been in identifying, best practice, appropriate existing standards in risk and cyber security and identifying a practical risk approach. Consequently, the 12 IACS Recommendations, collectively, not only provide guidance on the most pressing areas of concern but work as building blocks for the broader objective of system resilience.

The IACS Chairman, Mr Jeong-kie Lee of the Korean Register, stated “These 12 Recommendations represent a significant mile-stone in addressing safety concerns related to cyber issues. IACS focus on Cyber Safety reflects our recognition that cyber systems are now as integral a part of a ships safety envelope as its structure and machinery and IACS is committed to providing industry with the necessary tools as part of our wider mission to deliver safer, cleaner, shipping.”

Importantly, and noting the challenge of bringing traditional technical assurance processes to bear against new and unfamiliar technologies, IACS has launched these Recommendations in the expectation that they will rapidly evolve as a result of the experience gained from their practical implementation. Furthermore, IACS recognises that these Recommendations are only an ‘interim’ product and that they will be subject to amalgamation into a larger document with more consistent language, overlaps removed and common material consolidated.

Commenting on this approach, IACS Secretary General, Robert Ashdown, explained “The decision to publish these new materials as stand alone documents as Recommendations was made explicitly to give industry stakeholders access to the developing material. IACS continues to make significant efforts to work ever more closely with industry and believes this approach provides the right balance between delivering the detailed guidance that is urgently required while remaining receptive to input from the industry stakeholders via JWG/CS on how they would like to see IACS proceed.”

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