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Cybersecurity challenge for Australian ports

Port sustainability

Container terminal operator DP World recently navigated a cybersecurity incident that occurred between November 10th and 13th. Thanks to the prompt and effective measures taken, normal operations are being restored. The backlog – which was approximately 30,000 containers mid-November – is being effectively managed and reduced. Project44 shares insights.

Vessel berthing times affected

Analysing the weekly median berthing times at Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney ports as of November 15th, the impact of the cyberattack seems limited. Although the Port of Sydney experienced a recent high in berthing time, Brisbane’s median remains below that of the week of October 29th, and Melbourne is trending lower than the previous week. While there are slight upticks, the cyberattack has not significantly impeded the ports’ vessel processing capabilities.

Australian port cyberattack

Import Dwell Times

The cyberattack’s notable impact lies in the extended time taken to discharge containers from vessels. As of 15 November, weekly median import dwell times indicated a week-to-date increase, with Brisbane witnessing a 60 per cent rise, Sydney experiencing a 53 per cent increase, and Melbourne noting a 32 per cent increase due to the disruptions. This is due to the temporary inability of containers to be discharged from the ports, so while they were able to be unloaded from vessels, they were not able to be picked up from terminals.

Australian port cyberattack

Outlook and Recommendations

As port operations gradually return to normal, an anticipated backlog may prolong port dwell times. Despite the relatively short duration of the disruption and the current slower season for ocean freight, project44 expresses optimism that vessel berthing times will not see lasting impacts.This incident marks the second major cyberattack on ports this year, following the Port of Nagoya. It underscores the importance of comprehensive cybersecurity education for staff, the utilization and maintenance of effective cyber safety measures, and the necessity of contingency plans for manual processing during disruptions. While technology enhances supply chains, these events emphasise the need for a robust and resilient cybersecurity infrastructure. 

For more information from project44, click here.

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