August 5, 2021
Connected mobility may bring to mind passenger pods and delivery drones, which may be the most visible in the march forward to Smart Mobility and Transport. However, conversations about connected mobility often leave out a massive industry segment – one that is perhaps most key to how the world runs today.
The maritime and shipping industries now largely depend on satellite communications for efficient and safe navigation. In some cases, this dependence is complete, as many countries around the world have shut off the radio transmitters that sent out pulsed signals for navigation. Of course, satellite technology is nothing new – in maritime settings alone it has been used since 1979 – and has been shown to be fairly reliable. However, without a consistent backup plan, relying completely on satellite communications runs the risk of maritime disasters in the case of something as innocuous as a solar flare or as harmful as deliberate jamming or spoofing cyberattacks.
Jamming involves sending out so many signals that a receiver becomes overwhelmed, unable to distinguish between relevant or irrelevant information. Spoofing, on the other hand, is when a cyberattacker provides false information, leading to faulty navigation and ships going off course. Both types of attacks can be very disruptive (for example, a shipping vessel that goes off course could cause massive supply chain issues) and also potentially dangerous.
The need to secure communications between satellites and ships, therefore, will is already paramount – especially as there is no real reliable, secure back-up plan for navigation other than mapping the stars. Though shipping supply chains and other naval activities are not often in public view, the Evergiven/Suez Canal incident earlier this year made it clear how one disruption could affect the rest of the world.
The maritime industry can no longer wait to find a secure method of communication – unless sailors would like to depend on their future by starlight.
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