The resounding message is clear: port and terminal operators, who are undertaking much-needed digital modernization efforts, must simultaneously implement improved cybersecurity capabilities that are designed and “built-in” to the industrial network infrastructure from the start.  By connecting more equipment, devices, people, applications and embracing greater digitization, global port operators are realizing improved results – including faster vessel loading and unloading, safer working conditions, and greater operational efficiencies.  With access to critical infrastructure improvement funding, port and terminal operators can pursue essential modernization funds while concurrently improving their cybersecurity and operational resiliency.

At this year’s Maritime and Control Systems Cybersecurity Conference – “Hack the Port 22” – an event supported by agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Cyber Command, and the National Security Agency, and sponsored by Cisco – multiple government leaders underscored the critical importance of the maritime transportation industry and the need to protect the sector from cyber threats.  Speaking during the conference, DHS CISA Director, Jen Easterly noted the increasing cyber threat to the industry that underpins a considerable amount of U.S. business – enabling trillions of dollars of commerce each year and simultaneously supporting every other industry sector.  Earlier in March of 2022, Director Easterly and Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger warned that every sector is a potential target for digital strikes.  Focusing in on the maritime transportation sector, during the Hack the Port 22 Conference, in addition to Director Easterly, multiple government speakers including DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Chris Inglis, National Cyber Director, referenced recent FBI and DHS warnings to critical infrastructure operators and noted how the maritime transportation industry could be a desirable target to cyber criminals seeking to maximize economic impact.

During Hack the Port 22, government and maritime industry practitioners were keenly interested in implementing a multi-RF access networking approach while embedding cybersecurity into maritime transportation infrastructure with Cisco’s Ports and Terminals Design Guide – as discussed in this blog post.  Some of these key enabling technologies, such as CURWB and Cisco Cyber Vision, were demonstrated at the conference and used by government and university student cyber defenders during the event’s training exercises.

Finally, at Hack the Port 22, government leaders across the board noted the need for developing and fostering the cybersecurity skills of the workforce to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure.  The conference provided the opportunity for multiple university teams and government teams to participate in training and a hands-on opportunity to practice their skills during a “red on blue” cyber exercise (with infrastructure provided by Cisco).  It was exciting to watch the blue team students use Cisco Cyber Vision to collaboratively share easy to understand industrial network maps, identify potential threats, and make security recommendations.  Likewise, during the exercise, many of the university students and their professor mentors noted how they have incorporated training and education resources from the Cisco Networking Academy – the world’s largest and longest-running corporate social responsibility education program, educating over 15 million students since 1997.  Cisco Networking Academy has been working in partnership with over 29,300 educators and instructors in over 180 countries around the world to deliver the best curricula for today’s world.  We recently launched SkillsForAll.com to provide the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a tech career.  Courses and resources are from the Cisco Networking Academy and developed by industry experts. And, always available to anyone, anywhere—for free. Networking Academy is one of Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility priorities – supporting our purpose to Power an Inclusive Future for All.


Andy Stewart

Senior Federal Strategist

Public Safety & Defense