Smugglers, Drug Traffickers and Pirates Using IT

Published Feb 10, 2014 7:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

Maritime fraud is becoming more common and one cause is computer hacking, says maritime insurer Skuld. As both the greater reliance on IT and electronic trading platforms and documents increases, so does the need to stay ahead of the game played by fraudsters. There is a “cost” of course, to greater security, both in terms of investing in better technology and processes, but also in potential business opportunities.

Cyber Fraud is a rapidly developing area of risk for all companies across all industries. The key to successful fraud is having enough convincing information and knowledge to make the target believe that a transaction is genuine. Information theft is therefore a key element in fraud, and cyber-attacks can facilitate the wholesale theft of vast amounts of confidential information.

Recent Examples:

•    an attempt by drug traffickers to exploit, with IT, the automation of container terminals to facilitate their criminal activities
•    the risk of vessel AIS data being corrupted or altered to facilitate fraud related to a vessel’s movement or trade or indeed to hide her after a successful hijacking
•    intercepting and monitoring of communications to and from shipping agents to exploit information and perpetrate a whole range of frauds and other crimes from cargo related matters to smuggling activities
•    a recent attempt by hackers to divert freight and other payments to a shipping company by circulating genuine looking invoices seeking to channel third party payments to new banking details

Lesson Learned: 

Every company, big or small, needs to monitor its IT risk profile and ensure that it takes necessary steps to protect itself from cyber attacks, especially those opportunistic attacks that seek to exploit unprotected systems.