Cybercrime on board: a new threat to superyacht owners?
Many of us think of cruising around the world as an ideal holiday. Nothing can be more luxurious than doing it on a private super yacht. For example, most wealthy and famous people prefer to have their own vessels and combine lavish luxury with a coveted sense of privacy when sailing around the Greek islands or in the Caribbean. However, it seems that there are some unexpected threats: the hackers.
Superyachts are the ultimate symbol of wealth and luxury
Owners of superyachts do not only pay a lot of money for the construction of their dream ships, but also for the costs they incur when sailing around the world. By way of example, to spend a day at Marina Di Capri in Italy, which is the most expensive marina in the world, it cost $3,369 in 2018, while Marino Di Porto Cervo in Sardinia reduced costs to $2,904. Ibiza Magna in Spain was $2,762 and French Saint-Tropez came to $1,510.
Octopus, the superyacht commissioned by Microsoft’s Paul Allen for $200 million in 2003, is on the list with Rising Sun, owned by Oracle’s Larry Ellison, before selling it to music tycoon David Geffen in 2010 for $590 million. The luxury on board is not only measured by price. Al Said, the superyacht that belongs to the Sultan of Oman, has its own concert hall big enough to accommodate an orchestra of 60 musicians. The 133-foot-long Al Mirqab, home to the former Prime Minister of Qatar, houses an indoor pool, a movie theater, and a helipad. Roman Abramovich, the famous owner of Chelsea FC, is said to have installed a missile defense system with his own submarine in his superyacht Eclipse.
Superyachts are vulnerable to hacker attacks
Rockets built in Germany cannot protect you if the threats come from cyberspace. Most business moguls know that they take cybersecurity seriously in their businesses and protect their systems with tools like a WAF, a web application firewall that must protect against the most dangerous hacker attacks in the OWASP Top 10 Threat List. But superyacht owners do not seem to be aware of how vulnerable their vessels are. According to a CNN report from July 2018, super yachts are filled with potential vulnerabilities in a wide range of modern electronic systems used for navigation, including radio transmitters, GPS, satellite receivers and radar systems.
Many super yachts also house possibilities for financial transactions and own business space, as billionaires often have to make decisions while sailing.
This means that on-board Bloomberg terminals are filled with financial data, which increases the need for improved firewalls. According to CNN, one billionaire had to fight for over $150,000 tapped by hackers who accessed his bank account. Other incidents reported by the same source are ransomware attacks by hackers on yacht navigation systems, which then require money to unlock them. It also comes to blackmailing the superyacht owner after accessing their private data on the media server.
Superyacht owners are increasingly turning to cybersecurity specialists with adequate know-how in order to protect them. Therefore, cruising on a superyacht in the Mediterranean may be hardly relaxing if you have to beware of hackers.