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One of the country’s leading cyber-security companies that has worked with the Royal Navy is seeing a steep rise in demand for its expertise from superyacht owners.
Computer Network Defence (CND), which has also helped protect the European Union Naval Force from cyber attack, is now helping the super-rich stay cyber-safe at sea.
With attack methods becoming ever more elaborate and diverse the risk has grown dramatically.
Attackers include criminals and even nation states, and it is possible for them to gain control of super-yachts’ navigation and other systems which are critical to the vessel.
But the hackers will also steal money and information by attacking the yachts’ computers.
The worst case scenario is criminals tracking the movements of a vessel in order to kidnap or take hostages.
CND staff are often asked by clients to try and penetrate yachts’ systems – in the same way reformed burglars are used to test a home’s physical security.
Whilst CND staff aren’t former hackers and even hold security clearance, they must learn the skills and methodologies of hackers. It takes a thief to catch a thief.
Andy Cuff, who founded CND over a decade ago after a military career, said: “We’ve been working in the maritime sector since we began.
“At first we worked with naval forces including the Royal Navy and European Union Naval Force, and that expertise is now in demand from high net worth individuals for their yachts.
“While these wealthy people will have made their homes and businesses cyber secure, they often have not considered their yachts as vulnerable.
“This is now changing as superyacht owners realise that criminals, nation states and business rivals are quite able to target them whether they are in a marina or at sea.
“We have produced a modular service, which can be adapted and scaled to counter every likely scenario; any yacht with computer systems is potentially vulnerable.
“We look at all aspects of cyber security, from the user aboard right through to the destination of the network traffic and a plethora of other associated activity external to the yacht.
“The level of interest in our superyacht services has risen sharply this year and when owners are having refits, cyber-security is something they now consider.
“We have noticed a sharp increase in superyachts being targeted and the threats are real and worrying.”
CND is based in Bath and also has a presence on the Isle of Man, UAE and in the US.