Ransomware attack at South Africa ports highlights once again the need for smart containers and secure IoT networks
6 August 2021

Ransomware attack at South Africa ports highlights once again the need for smart containers and secure IoT networks

6 August 2021

Another week, another ransomware attack - and one that captured the attention of our maritime connectivity experts.

According to Port Technology website and CNBC, ports across South Africa have been affected by an “act of cyberattack, security intrusion and sabotage” on the IT systems of Transnet, the Government majority-owned organisation which owns and operates the country's main seaports.

Activity at the company’s container terminals has been halted with Transnet reportedly declar(ing) “force majeure,” which is when unforeseeable circumstances prevent a company from fulfilling a contract”.

Another set-back for the shipping industry following COVID and Ever Given.  And one that the needs to be addressed as, according to IT Governance, the number of Ransomware attacks reported in 2Q 2021 was 141 which is nearly 3x the number reported in 2Q 2020 (55 attacks), and a rise of 42% on 2Q21, during which 107 Ransomware attacks were recorded.

Smart Containers, IoT and maritime connectivity

We’ve previously written about how, as events unfolded in The Suez in April, the industry divided into those who had full visibility of their containers - on the Ever Given or stuck in the queue of some 400 vessels- and those who didn’t.

The shipping ecosystem - led by early adopter vendors and shipping companies - has been discussing the pros and cons of smart containers and their role in managing the entire shipment and delivery process of goods through connectivity, cloud computing traceability, monitoring, and smart sensors.

Key to the success of Smart Containers is the rollout of IoT networks, both on-board ships and within ports. These allow the information about the container and its contents, which is gathered by sensors, to be transmitted to the crew - and remotely to the shipping line, the owners of the container’s contents and to ports which have to prepare for the arrival of ships and transfer of containers.

And, for IoT to work, fast and always-on maritime connectivity is required.

Satellite has traditionally been the connectivity tool of choice for the shipping industry. Expensive but always-on.

However, these days most maritime cellular communication networks can provide coverage up to 40km/25 miles out to sea (without a guaranteed QoS). As most vessels tend to spend their time in-port or hugging the coast, cellular can almost always be used for both voice and data.

Telecom26’s Maritime Connectivity Service

The main challenge in providing a seamless cellular service to ships out at sea is that multiple SIMs have been required to ensure coverage throughout the journey. As the ship crosses borders, so the network operators will change.

Providing high-quality and cost-effective Maritime Connectivity to vessels of all sizes wherever they are in the world is one of Telecom26’s core services and we have developed a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Multi-IMSI global SIM cards which enable Global Roaming.

These enable one SIM to access multiple networks both in-country and across borders thus removing the need to worry about the coverage of a single MNO, or the existence of roaming alliances. Multiple-IMSI profiles are pre-loaded onto every SIM allowing for simple reconfiguration if the primary network has poor or no service.

Our Multi-IMSI global SIMs automatically select the best performing network in the area, cross-border, while providing users with the freedom to change SIM profiles and services with ease.

When a vessel is travelling along the coast or anchored at port, the SIMs will use the best available cellular network and switch to satellite only when absolutely necessary.

  1. A multi-SIM router hosting SIMs with multi-IMSI feature, enables ship-wide Wi-Fi which can be used by the IoT network - as well as the crew. No more bill shock for any of them when they return home.

The Telecom26 offering can combine both a full mobile private network at sea as well as a nearshore offering in order to provide contiguous mobile coverage at the lowest cost available.

Telecom26’s new maritime connectivity tracking project

Our team of maritime experts have recently started an exciting new project which will give us even more insight into the maritime cellular connectivity and satellite needs of the shipping, cruising and leisure boat communities.

As part of this we will be tracking the journeys of vessels to which we provide connectivity - and monitoring which of our cellular and satellite networks they connect to, when and for how long, and what the data capacity used is. 

We will identify their most common routes and what their coverage requirements are.  We will then use this information to help improve the service we offer - both in terms of capacity and pricing.  

To learn more about Telecom26’s suite of IoT maritime connectivity and maritime cellular communications services please get in touch.

Ready to talk?

We are here to help!
Let us know how we can help your project.