Cyber Threats: Real or Horlicks?

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on Cyber Threats: Real or Horlicks?
Jul 292014

The real world of DP2Much is being published abut the potential threats of cyber attacks on shipboard and onshore computer systems. Imaginary or overblown threats are nothing new to marketing. In 1931 beverage company Horlicks used an imaginary condition called ‘Night Starvation’ in a highly successful promotion that ran for decades. Is the threat to ships real or just a Horlicks?

Steve Jones of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry,SAMI, and respected author of several books on maritime security  looks at the issue for Maritime Accident Casebook and says…


Cleaning Up your Cyber Hygiene

As the global focal point for maritime security matters, the Security Association for the Maritime Industry constantly monitors the next shipping threats over the horizon. As part of this remit, the Association has turned its attention to the potential cyber threats hidden within the industry.

SAMI recently held a seminar on cyber security, and played host to leading experts, as this most modern of shipping threats came into the spotlight. Given the nature of the threat the true extent of shipping’s cyber vulnerabilities remains uncertain, but the industry is slowly waking to the implications of cyber-attacks. It is increasingly recognising that poorly defended systems pose huge risks, as concerns rise that criminals, pirates and terrorists may target shipping.

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Does Your DSC Know Who You Are?

 equipment, Safety Alerts  Comments Off on Does Your DSC Know Who You Are?
Sep 012011

A DSC-enabled VHF radio

Does your DSC-enabled radio know who you are? Of course, no rational person would overlook entering an MMSI and connecting to a GPS receiver, but of course, they do, especially recreational boaters.

Warns the US Coast Guard:

As the US Coast Guard’s new marine radio network Rescue 21 becomes operational, rescue centers can now receive instant distress alerts from commonly used DSC-capable VHF marine radios.  However, approximately 90% of VHF DSC distress alerts received by the Coast Guard do not contain position information, and approximately 60% do not contain a registered identity.   The Coast Guard cannot effectively respond to a DSC distress alert sent from such a radio. Continue reading »

FCC Enforces GPS Jammer Prohibition

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on FCC Enforces GPS Jammer Prohibition
Apr 132011

Portable, easily concealed GPS jammers like this are a potential threat

The US Federal Communications Commission, FCC,has issued an advisory regarding a prohibition on the sale of jamming devices, including those which can interefer with GPS equipment. The advisory come amid growing concrn regarding GPS vulnerability

Says the FCC:”In order to prevent harmful interference to critical public safety communications and authorized radio services, federal law prohibits the marketing and sale of “jammers,” i.e., equipment designed to intentionally block, jam, or interfere with licensed or authorized radio communications. This longstanding prohibition applies to any type of jamming equipment, including devices that interfere with cellular and Personal Communications Services (PCS), police radar, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and wireless networking services (Wi-Fi).


“Jammers not only disrupt authorized radio services, but also jeopardize critical public safety communications, such as 9-1-1 calls, and could compromise law enforcement efforts. Ensuring the public’s access to these vital services is critically important, and the Enforcement Bureau is committed to strict enforcement in this area.

“Recently, for example, the Bureau: issued seven citations requiring well-known online retailers of cell phone jammers to come into immediate compliance; two launched a proceeding to revoke the equipment authorization for a device that is being marketed in the United States as a text stopper;3 and initiated a $25,000 forfeiture proceeding against for marketing cell phone jammers in the United States. 4 A complete list of jammer enforcement actions is available at

Other GPS stories:

The Sun Has Got His Spat On…

GPS: Do You Need To Fix Those Fixes?

Sat Maintenance May Degrade GPS Performance

GPS Hacking May Sink Ships

Where’s the GPS Gone?

GPS Losing Its Way?

Zombie GPS

GPS: Do You Need To Fix Those Fixes?

 publications  Comments Off on GPS: Do You Need To Fix Those Fixes?
Sep 302010

Mariners must be aware that on many charts still in use, a correction has to be applied to a satellite derived position referenced to WGS84 before the position is plotted on the chart, warns the latest issue of the London P&I Club’s Stoploss Bulletin.

Navigating officers should always check the charts for information about corrections that need to be applied to satellite derived positions when preparing a passage plan and alert the navigators to any existing corrections which are required before positions are plotted on the individual charts.

this issue is also emphasised by an incident in which a ship grounded as a result of total reliance on GPS, coupled with a failure to recognise that a significant correction had to be applied to GPS positions before they were plotted on the chart. During a coastal passage, a containership ran aground after a navigating officer commenced a significant alteration of course about half a mile before he reached the intended alter course position.

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GPS Hacking May Sink Ships

 AIS, ECDIS, navigation, news  Comments Off on GPS Hacking May Sink Ships
Feb 232010

22km difference - results of a jammed GPS

On the left is a picture from an experiment carried out in 2008 by Alan Grant of the UK’s General Lighthouse Authorities. A vessel’s GPS receiver is reporting its position 22km away from its true position because it has been jammed by a device almost anyone can buy off the internet.

The question is probably not will a major incident involve a GPS jammed vessel but when. It highlights the need for seafarers to be familiar with, and competent in, traditional methods of navigation.

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The Sun Has Got His Spat On…

 ECDIS, maritime safety, navigation, news  Comments Off on The Sun Has Got His Spat On…
Feb 122010

NASA's SDO ready for launch

And coming out to play with your satellite navigation, and possibly satcoms, too, so the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory scheduled for today is timely.

After years of such quiescence since the Sun’s last maximum activity in 1985 that some astronomers muttered about a new Maunder Minimum*, the sun has suddenly woken up. Within the next few years we’ll be licked by solar flares and a variety of phenomenae that will reach out and touch the constellations of satellites on which we now depend and nobody really knows what’s going to happen.

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Galileo Contracts For SatNav Sats And Stuff

 navigation, news  Comments Off on Galileo Contracts For SatNav Sats And Stuff
Jan 122010

imageThree of the six contracts for the procurement of the initial operational capability of the European satellite navigation system, Galileo,have now been awarded by the European Commission. The remaining three procurement contracts, for the ground mission infrastructure, the ground control infrastructure and the operations should be awarded by mid-2010.

Galileo will provide an alternative to the US-owned Global Positioning System, GPS. Many satellites in the GPS constellation are beyond their designed lifespan and others are approaching it, while budget cuts have delayed replacement leading to concerns regarding degradation of the GPS system and the possibility that there may eventually be too few satellites to provide adequately accurate fixes.

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So Long LORAN-C, At Least In The US

 navigation  Comments Off on So Long LORAN-C, At Least In The US
Jan 122010

LORAN Station Malone, Malone, Florida Great Lakes chain (GRI 8970)/Southeast U.S. chain (GRI 7980)

If you’re able to navigate in North America with LORAN-C after 8 February 2010 you’ll have Canada and the Russian Federation to thank. After 52 years the US will lose Loran-C coverage as part of cost-cutting measures and electronic navigation will be limited to GPS, itself causing concern in some quarters, until the European Gallileo system come online, scheduled for 2014.

LORAN-C was originally developed to provide radio-navigation service for US coastal waters later expanded to include complete coverage of the continental US as well as most of Alaska. Twenty-four US LORAN-C stations work in partnership with Canadian and Russian stations to provide coverage in Canadian waters and in the Bering Sea.

Five stations will remain live to meet bilateral agreements with Canada and Russia.

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Jun 092008

Fortunately Mobilarm will provide some for you if you fall overboard. The company’s website announces: “Mobilarm provides lorem ipsum dolor sit arnet, cons etetur sadlpiscing elltra sed diam nonurmy”, which is a relief to know, but what does it actually mean?

Mobilarm’s page on it’s recently launched V100 VPIRB, doesn’t enlighten us so prehaps lorem ipsum is an optional extra on top of the $749 asking price.

Okay, I’ll come clean, just to prove that being sarky can be educational. “Lorem ipsum” is a place-filler used in designing pages, print or electronic, which stops you being distracted by the meaning of the words so you can concentrate on the look of the presention. Evidentally this oddity is left over from the design stage of the Mobilarm webpage.

The effect appears in Explorer and Safari Browsers but does on Firefox.

Lorem Ipsum does have a noble lineage, though. It’s based on a text by Cicero, “The Purposes of Good And Evil“, written around 45BC. In translation part of it reads “Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?”

I don’t think he’s talking about kinky stuff but the benefits of hard unpleasant work, like seafarers from third world countries going aboard ship to give some hope to their families for an escape from poverty.

I’m sure the V100 works and will provide you with all the lorem ipsum you need when you fall overboard.