Barriers to Secure ICT in a Maritime Environment

Wood, John (2014). Barriers to Secure ICT in a Maritime Environment. PhD thesis The Open University.



The purpose of the research reported in this thesis was to investigate the barriers to ICT security in a maritime environment so that the findings of the research can be used to develop a secure ICT maritime profile that will be capable of being updated on an on-going basis. This is an important area of research because the maritime sector is increasingly reliant upon ICT yet there is evidence that ICT security and the potential threats and consequences if ICT is not available when needed have not been given the attention they deserve. Indeed, the literature review carried out as part of this research pointed to a big gap in the maritime literature regarding ICT security.

Literature from non-maritime specific fields was used to establish a basic understanding of the barriers most likely to be relevant and provide key terminology for use in this research. Empirical data were collected from semi-structured interviews with Royal Naval personnel and informal discussions with Merchant Navy officers. A robust yet flexible approach was used to interpret the results and thus identify the barriers, many of which are caused by complex interactions between social and technical factors, particularly on-board ships.

Nine barriers to ICT security were revealed. They are: tensions experienced between security experts and ICT users; operational imperatives override security requirements; security requirements impeding business process; a limited ability to recover from disruption; unable or unwilling to share security incident information; Inadequate security training; disruption to situational awareness; unpredictable behaviour of people in difficult situations; and a lack of ICT security awareness. A new understanding of barriers arose from further interpretation of the findings, the results of which led to recommendations for the design for an updateable maritime ICT security profile that could be used to guide relevant staff (including Ship’s Security Officers) and as a tool to raise security awareness for non-experts.

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