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The Bridge to Safe Trendy Port Operations

By Andy Stewart and Don Leyn

At Cisco, deploying superior cybersecurity capabilities goes in tandem with serving to prospects such because the U.S.’ and the world’s largest ports and terminals to implement digital enterprise transformation and modernization.  

Zero belief safety for digitally enabled ports

Maintaining bulk cargo and transport containers transferring effectively and safely at a port requires large quantities of information to be securely transmitted in actual time to and from trendy purposes comparable to a Terminal Working System (TOS), autonomous options, and different port operations options. Information flows and supporting purposes have moved nearer to “the sting” – nearer to the economic units, terminal tools, transferring autos, and customers. In as we speak’s digitally enabled ports and terminals, yesterday’s outdated safety perimeter will not be adequate. With the rising variety of related units, adopting a zero belief safety technique primarily based on a least-privileged strategy to community and knowledge entry is an absolute necessity to efficiently modernize operations.

Extremely-reliable wi-fi backhaul – fiberlike wi-fi wherever

Maritime and inland port operators more and more deploy trendy wi-fi connectivity to maneuver knowledge throughout the yard and enhance outputs. They want know-how with ultra-low latency, excessive throughput, excessive reliability, and seamless handoffs when on the transfer in a fancy radio frequency setting. At the start of the pandemic, a big U.S. East Coast port started a journey of upgrading their current wi-fi options. After testing a number of candidates, they selected to implement Cisco Extremely-Dependable Wi-fi Backhaul. In 2021, the port’s operations realized a 30% enhance in container utilization, and so they attribute a few of this enhance to the improved wi-fi connectivity capabilities supplied by Cisco URWB.

Fixing the three main cybersecurity challenges

Whereas serving to port and terminal operators deploy trendy wi-fi networks to digitize operations, our efforts additionally assist them clear up three main cybersecurity challenges:

  • Excessive visibility: Delivering an correct stock of what’s related to the community helps them perceive the operational configuration and their safety posture. This visibility helps prioritize what must be mounted to scale back the assault floor, but additionally offers insights to scale back downtime and enhance operational effectivity.
  • Enhanced management: With enhanced visibility, operators can perceive precisely which units want to speak with one another and management how they’re speaking – enabling community segmentation and safe knowledge conduits that allow their terminal working system (TOS) and different very important purposes to trade knowledge securely.
  • Foster collaboration: Gaining visibility into related units and communication patterns allows the correct info switch wanted for operations and IT personnel to collaborate and implement the very best safety insurance policies. It additionally enhances operational throughput and efficiencies.

It’s central to deal with these points holistically when taking a zero belief strategy to construct a buyer’s industrial community. As described in NIST SP 800-207, “Earlier than endeavor an effort to carry zero belief to an enterprise, there needs to be a survey of all property, topics, knowledge flows, and work flows. [ . . .] This consciousness types the foundational state that should be reached earlier than a zero belief structure deployment is feasible.” Thus, offering excessive visibility to a port or terminal operator begins with:

  • Mapping the information flows from and between all of the very important purposes (e.g., TOS, autonomous programs, crane programs, gate working programs, digicam programs, customer-facing purposes, and so forth.)
  • Figuring out and acutely characterizing the related units, tools, and customers producing and exchanging this knowledge
  • Deriving and specifying operational knowledge trade traits comparable to required latency, redundancy, prioritization schemas, and bandwidth necessities.

Coverage and community segmentation

Subsequent, following zero belief and industrial safety greatest practices—as outlined in ISA-95/IEC-62264 and ISA-99/IEC-62443—and utilizing the data from these licensed community flows, we implement coverage and community segmentation with a defense-in-depth technique that builds segmentation and zones with sanctioned conduits to forestall assaults and lateral motion. Briefly, this entails a bottom-up, trust-nobody strategy the place each obtainable safety functionality of the platform is leveraged to offer segmentation, threat-informed safety, and governance. This ensures a clear coverage between operations and safety personnel – thus, permitting for safe, protected, and environment friendly operations within the bodily port/terminal.

You can not defend what you don’t see

Cisco safety options are constructed immediately into community tools and decode industrial protocols to watch operations, feed the cybersecurity platform with operational know-how context and complete menace intelligence, and, thus, allow safety and operational collaboration. With this excessive visibility throughout all units and knowledge flows, the cybersecurity platform can routinely detect intrusions and irregular behaviors, implement acceptable coverage, and alert the safety workforce to behave.

Deep visibility consists of the flexibility to acutely characterize the state of all industrial property—together with system make/mannequin, firmware, newest patches, and different programs elements—to evaluate industrial asset vulnerability. The Cisco Cyber Imaginative and prescient sensor constructed into Cisco industrial community tools makes it straightforward to construct a complete image of the economic setting. Safety and operations personnel can assess threat and implement a steady enchancment course of by way of deliberate patch administration and/or implementing further isolation to probably weak units till it turns into protected and operationally possible to replace the system.


Delivering efficient cybersecurity for important infrastructure requires a deliberate effort throughout any group’s strategy to carry collectively individuals, processes, and know-how. We’re excited to allow terminal administration and port operations to grow to be extra dependable and sustainable via digitization and—built-in with these modernization efforts—make them safer. An built-in networking and safety portfolio helps the maritime transportation sector via this journey – delivering the very best know-how, which underpins environment friendly processes and allows the sector’s personnel with the talents and instruments mandatory to understand all the chances of recent port operations.

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