Classification societies publish cybersecurity recommendations

The following is text of a news release from the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS):

(LONDON) — IACS has published nine of its 12 recommendations on cybersafety with the aim of enabling the delivery of cyber-resilient ships whose resilience can be maintained throughout their working lives. These eagerly anticipated recommendations are the result of a long-term initiative from IACS that has benefited considerably from cross industry input and support.

IACS initially addressed the subject of software quality with the publication of UR E22 in 2006. Recognizing the huge increase in the use of onboard cybersystems since that time, IACS has developed this series of recommendations with a view to reflecting the resilience requirements of a ship with many more interdependencies. As a result, the IACS recommendations address the need for:

• A more complete understanding of the interplay between ship's systems.
• Protection from events beyond software errors.
• In the event that protection failed, the need for an appropriate response and ultimately recovery.
• In order that the appropriate response could be put in place, a means of detection is required.

IACS also recognized at an early stage that, in order for ships to be resilient against cyberincidents, all parts of the industry needed to be actively involved, and so convened a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Cyber Systems. A significant part of the JWG work has been in identifying, best practice, appropriate existing standards in risk and cybersecurity and identifying a practical risk approach. Consequently, the 12 IACS recommendations, collectively, not only provide guidance on the most pressing areas of concern but work as building blocks for the broader objective of system resilience.

IACS Chairman Jeong-kie Lee of the Korean Register said, “These 12 recommendations represent a significant milestone in addressing safety concerns related to cyberissues. IACS focus on cybersafety reflects our recognition that cyber systems are now as integral a part of a ships safety envelope as its structure and machinery and IACS is committed to providing industry with the necessary tools as part of our wider mission to deliver safer, cleaner, shipping.”

Importantly, and noting the challenge of bringing traditional technical assurance processes to bear against new and unfamiliar technologies, IACS has launched these recommendations in the expectation that they will rapidly evolve as a result of the experience gained from their practical implementation. Furthermore, IACS recognizes that these recommendations are only an "interim" product and that they will be subject to amalgamation into a larger document with more consistent language, overlaps removed and common material consolidated.

Commenting on this approach, IACS Secretary-General Robert Ashdown said, “The decision to publish these new materials as stand alone documents as recommendations was made explicitly to give industry stakeholders access to the developing material. IACS continues to make significant efforts to work ever more closely with industry and believes this approach provides the right balance between delivering the detailed guidance that is urgently required while remaining receptive to input from the industry stakeholders via JWG/CS on how they would like to see IACS proceed.”

IACS recognizes that the delivery of these important series of recommendations is only the start in the ongoing struggle to maintain the cyberintegrity of vessels. IACS remains confident, however, that the flexible and structured approach being adopted positions it well to further evolve and enhance these offerings, quickly and responsively, and in a manner which is practical and supportive of the needs of the largest number of industry stakeholders.

Click here for more details about the 12 recommendations.

By Professional Mariner Staff