By Nicholas Newman, April 18, 2019

Today’s pirates are just as innovative in the tactics and technologies they use as they were in historic times. Where once the likes of Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd and Blackbeard boarded ships and stole cargo, the modern-day pirate relies not on a cutlass but on hacking skills to obtain more ill-gotten gains than Blackbeard could ever have dreamed of.

Pirates’ interest in cyber tools is in part because of the interconnectedness of shipping with the global internet. Today, the world’s 51,000 vessels that carry around 90 per cent of the world’s freight are equipped with modern technologies such as industry 4.0, which are vulnerable to a range of hacking incidents. These incidents include the ghosting of GPS systems, taking over of command-and-control systems, disruption attacks, ransomware and even cyber commercial intelligence gathering.

Today’s digital piracy threats come not only from external adversaries but also from “disgruntled employees who may misuse their privileges to attack a system or exfiltrate important corporate data”, says Prakasha M Ramachandra of Aricent, a global design and engineering company.

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