2 min Security

Cyber attack knocks out four Australian ports, 30,000 containers stuck

Cyber attack knocks out four Australian ports, 30,000 containers stuck

DP World had a weekend to forget in Australia. After cyber attackers struck on Friday, the shipping giant was forced to shut down multiple ports. It also disconnected from the Internet to fight off the hackers. For now, the perpetrators are unknown.

A spokesman for DP World states that 5,000 containers will have left the ports of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Fremantle on Monday. That’s less than a quarter of normal volume, according to the company.

OT vulnerable

Following the attack, the Australian Minister for Home Affairs and Cybersecurity presented government plans to establish a reporting requirement for ransomware incidents. This would require companies to disclose what claim they received and whether they may have paid criminals. Regardless, DP World says it has not received any ransom demand in the first place.

In an update on Monday, the Freight & Trade Alliance organization stated that DP World was still restricting exports at the Port of Melbourne. There would also still be delays at Sydney and Fremantle.

The four ports represent 40 percent of Australia’s trade value. That makes them a bigger proportional target than the Japanese port of Nagoya, which also suffered a major cyber attack and accounted for 10 percent of that nation’s shipping. LockBit 3.0 was the perpetrator at the time.

Tip: LockBit shuts down seaport in Japan: OT attacks have a huge impact

Once again, the vulnerability of OT infrastructure, which often depends on outdated equipment, is apparent. It is currently unknown how the perpetrators managed to get in and whether any data was captured. Either way, the economic damage will be substantial, and not just for Australia or even just Asian markets.

In 2020-21, the Netherlands ranked tenth among Australian sea freight export markets, with only Asian countries in the top nine. Among the 30,000 stuck containers, many will undoubtedly hold cargo meant for the port of Rotterdam and further destinations in Europe.

Not just ports

The impact of an OT attack can be significant, and all kinds of environments can be strategic targets. Earlier in the year, we highlighted how zero trust principles should be an integral part of OT security.

Read it here: Zero Trust must be a pivotal part of OT security