Smart port in Rotterdam confounded by cyber attack
The APM Terminal in Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte harbour basin is the flagship container terminal for its parent, shipping giant Maersk. Fully automated, it serves as the model for other container terminals operated around the world by the Danish group.
But days after its computer system was struck by a ransomware virus on Tuesday, APM was idle, all cranes out of action, the Financieele Dagblad said on Thursday night.
By Friday afternoon, the firm’s older Rotterdam terminal had partially reopened, according to the Financiele Dagblad, but the fully-automated one remained out of action.
‘It’s a hard wake-up call for Rotterdam,’ Bas Janssen, director of port employers association Deltalinqs, told the Financieele Dagblad.
He said the virus attack which crippled scores of businesses worldwide, including APM and Maersk has had a massive impact.
‘There are physical fences to protect business locations, but this is an attack of a different order,’ Janssen said.
A third of port traffic
Only one of the three huge container terminal companies on the Maassvlakte was affected by the ransomware attack, but this represents a third of total turnover in Europe’s largest port.
If the companies ECT and RWG had also gone down, the Financieele Dagblad, writes, ‘nobody wants to think of the consequences.’
Port expert Bart Kuipers of Rotterdam’s Erasmus School of Economics, termed the attack on APM a ‘drastic event’, highlighting the role of IT at the port.
Rotterdam is striving to be the ‘smartest port in the world’, which means that automated navigation systems aboard ships and ‘smart’ containers are on their way, Kuipers said.
He believes a ‘security arms race’ involving huge investments is underway to quash attacks like that at APM this week.
Kuipers said Maersk and its APM unit have the most advanced security systems against all attacks on the IT systems, which turns out to be a disadvantage.
APM’s older terminal in Rotterdam, which is not fully automated, can handle containers manually, as its crane technology operates independently, and it was reopened on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, IT experts say further attacks are inevitable.
They believe these will not be limited to ransomware but will include cyber attacks designed to cause as much damage as possible.
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