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Dualog issues timely seasonal e-mail cyber security warning to shipping industry

Maritime digital solution provider Dualog has warned the shipping industry to be extra vigilant during the December holiday season after seeing an increase in cyber-attacks by email.

Cybercriminals often use emails to infect or gain access to corporate systems, and Dualog advises that December is the busiest month for cyber-attacks because hackers will often hide malware in holiday greetings emails.

According to Geir Inge Jensen, Chief Information Security Officer at Dualog, 90% of all cyber-attacks start with email ‘spear phishing’, and it is essential that vessels and their crew are aware of what they need to do to mitigate the risks. The current situation is worsening because of the emergence of new threats such as the Emotet and Trickbot trojan malware programmes which can render end-point security and firewalls ineffective.

As part of the strategy of raising awareness and being ahead of the curve in guarding against these threats, Dualog has further strengthened and upgraded its email security service MailDefence to tackle the danger head on.

Jensen advised, “Now is a good time to make sure everyone in your organisation is up to speed on cybersecurity. You need to train your shore staff and vessel crew to be very careful in how they handle emails and to not let their guard down at this time of year. Email is the number one attack vector used by hackers to get access to your company’s confidential data, and email attacks such as phishing are on the rise. In the past few years, the industry has seen a steep increase in the volume of spam, phishing and malware attacks. Every hour, more than 15,000 messages pass through our system where they are carefully filtered and delivered only when deemed safe. Nearly half of the messages are rejected as they represent a danger.

“A common threat is the use of deceptive messages where the hacker attempts to impersonate someone familiar to the recipient. It is not uncommon to see the content of messages sent in the past being resent together with a malicious attachment or links. Even though awareness and training should be an essential part of your cybersecurity risk management processes, such deceptive strategies are challenging to mitigate without reliable technological solutions in place. Hence, a primary line of defence should be an enterprise-grade, maritime-optimised email security gateway which guards you against spam, viruses and other malware attacks delivered by email,” he said.

Dualog’s cloud email security gateway – dubbed MailDefence – is purposely built to mitigate any attack relayed by email. Each message sent to a ship goes through an extensive security check that includes scans by multiple antivirus engines, anti-spam scoring mechanisms, email fingerprint analysis, phishing checks and domain sanity checks. By deploying an effective array of tools, techniques and smart solutions, including machine learning, Dualog can dramatically reduce the occurrence of spam and other malicious content from reaching the vessels. Dualog MailDefence also offers anti-spoofing methods including SPF, DKIM and DMARC that will protect your brand by preventing email abuse attacks and increase your email deliverability.

Staff need to be aware that they should (almost) never enable macros and to be very careful with links in emails, even in old documents. Jensen commented, “It is essential that you use a multi-layered email gateway with multiple top-of-the-line virus scanners and use a maritime DNS filter which blocks access to C2 and malware sites. It is also important to block all emails with macro-enabled documents and password-protected archives from unknown senders. And you should utilise SPF/DKIM/DMARC to protect against your domain being forged in an email attack,” he said.

He added, “By having a robust and reliable email security measure in place, you will save yourself from outside attacks such as phishing, malware and ransomware, and your employees, clients, and other related business entities from potentially crippling losses.”