South Korea Reported Maritime Cyber Safety Initiatives to the IMO

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) of the Republic of Korea has made significant advancements in maritime cyber safety by publishing guidelines aimed at bolstering the security of maritime operations against cyber threats. These guidelines, established in 2023, are designed to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of shipboard systems and information, providing a robust framework for ships and shipping companies to manage cyber risks effectively.

Under the title Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Safety Management, the MOF’s publication sets a comprehensive approach to cyber safety that integrates with the existing Safety Management Systems (SMS) of shipping entities. The guidelines are structured around five key functional elements: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. This approach aligns with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) own directives on maritime cyber risk management, reflecting a global consensus on the urgency of protecting maritime assets from cyber threats.

The MOF’s proactive steps include enforcing these guidelines to help ship owners and shipping companies establish a solid maritime cyber safety management system. This includes asset management, division of work, risk assessment, protective measures, detection measures, countermeasures, and recovery measures, which are essential in building resilience against cyber incidents.

Furthermore, the MOF has undertaken extensive surveys to gauge the current state of maritime cyber safety in South Korea. Findings from these surveys show that awareness of maritime cyber safety is significantly higher among oceangoing shipping companies compared to domestic ones, and less so among small to medium-sized companies. This underscores a critical need for widespread education and regulatory measures tailored to different scales of operation within the industry.

Moreover, the MOF plans to lay the groundwork for mandatory incident reporting and potentially conduct investigations into maritime cyber incidents. This regulatory effort is part of a broader strategy to enhance Korea’s overall maritime cyber risk management capabilities.

As part of a long-term strategy, the MOF has recognized the need to further enhance cyber safety management capabilities across the board and is committed to establishing a comprehensive maritime cyber safety integration system. This system will aim to improve the nation’s ability to manage and mitigate cyber risks in the maritime sector, reflecting an ongoing commitment to safeguarding its maritime operations from evolving cyber threats.

With cyber threats becoming an increasingly significant risk in maritime operations worldwide, South Korea’s initiative to strengthen its maritime cyber safety framework positions it as a leader in maritime cyber risk management in the international community.

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