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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

Preserving 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 fashionable purposes similar 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 gadgets, terminal gear, transferring automobiles, and customers. In in the present day’s digitally enabled ports and terminals, yesterday’s outdated safety perimeter isn’t enough. With the rising variety of related gadgets, adopting a zero belief safety technique primarily based on a least-privileged strategy to community and information entry is an absolute necessity to efficiently modernize operations.

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

Maritime and inland port operators more and more deploy fashionable wi-fi connectivity to maneuver information throughout the yard and improve outputs. They want know-how with ultra-low latency, excessive throughput, excessive reliability, and seamless handoffs when on the transfer in a posh radio frequency setting. In the beginning 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% improve in container utilization, they usually attribute a few of this improve to the improved wi-fi connectivity capabilities offered by Cisco URWB.

Fixing the three major cybersecurity challenges

Whereas serving to port and terminal operators deploy fashionable wi-fi networks to digitize operations, our efforts additionally assist them clear up three major 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 fastened to scale back the assault floor, but additionally gives insights to scale back downtime and enhance operational effectivity.
  • Enhanced management: With enhanced visibility, operators can perceive precisely which gadgets want to speak with one another and management how they’re speaking – enabling community segmentation and safe information conduits that let their terminal working system (TOS) and different very important purposes to change information securely.
  • Foster collaboration: Gaining visibility into related gadgets and communication patterns permits the correct info switch wanted for operations and IT personnel to collaborate and implement the most effective 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, information flows, and work flows. [ . . .] This consciousness kinds the foundational state that have to 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, digital camera programs, customer-facing purposes, and so forth.)
  • Figuring out and acutely characterizing the related gadgets, gear, and customers producing and exchanging this information
  • Deriving and specifying operational information change traits similar 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 out there 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, secure, and environment friendly operations within the bodily port/terminal.

You can not shield what you don’t see

Cisco safety options are constructed straight into community gear and decode industrial protocols to watch operations, feed the cybersecurity platform with operational know-how context and complete risk intelligence, and, thus, allow safety and operational collaboration. With this excessive visibility throughout all gadgets and information flows, the cybersecurity platform can routinely detect intrusions and irregular behaviors, implement applicable coverage, and alert the safety group to behave.

Deep visibility consists of the power 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 gear makes it simple to construct a complete image of the economic setting. Safety and operations personnel can assess threat and implement a steady enchancment course of through deliberate patch administration and/or implementing further isolation to doubtlessly susceptible gadgets till it turns into secure and operationally possible to replace the system.


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

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