Association raises alarm of new piracy threat on ships



The Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria (MASPAN) has called for the government to curtail the new cyber-attacksby pirates and terrorists on ships.

Mr Emmanuel Maiguwa, President, MASPAN, made the call in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos on Thursday.

Maiguwa recalled that the first significant cyber piracy was recorded in 2019 on ships sailing to New York, which raised concern about the ability of pirates to control critical functions of the vessel through the web.

He noted that while technologies were critical to shipping, they were, however, making ships vulnerable to cyber-attacks by pirates and terrorists.

“Ships have become more advanced in machinery performance monitoring, operations, onboard training, navigation and management.

“What this means for ships is; engine/oil temperature, consumption etc, can be monitored and controlled from both onboard and ashore, so are valves, containers, crew training, navigation and chart corrections.

“Interestingly, vessels’ cargo/container tracking systems give the hacker all the information about the cargo, while these technologies are critical to shipping, they make ships vulnerable to cyber-attacks by pirates and terrorists,” he said.

Maiguwa cited an example of a ship fully designed to operate on Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), and cyber pirates gaining entrance to update the map and guide the vessel to the desired location for the attack.

He explained that this meant that a cyber pirate could move a ship to favourable jurisdiction.


To address this new crime challenges, Maiguwa recommended that the digitalisation drive for the maritime and port industry should go hand-in-hand with a robust cyber security education, support and funding.

He also called for a review of legal frameworks, wondering if the cyber-pirates would be recognised and punished as pirates under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) definition of Piracy.

“If so, the definition of pirates in Acts such as the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) may have to be revisited.

“The Maritime Academy of Nigeria and other Marine Terminal Information System, (MTIs) may consider cyber-crime in their curriculums, administration under its shipping development role, may also consider a particular unit for maritime cyber security.

“Digitalisation in shipping is the best way forward; we should approach it with all readiness and responsibility,” he said.