Yachts increasingly threatened by cyber attacks

Yachts are heavily - and increasingly - equipped with the best technology, a multitude of entry points for hackers.
When we think of the risks that could affect a yacht, fire, collision, leak or even shipwreck (like the 40m superyacht “My Saga”, which sank in 2022 and made headlines) spontaneously spring to mind. However, the biggest risk today lies elsewhere, and is far more insidious: cyber attacks.


Yachts are heavily – and increasingly – equipped with the best technology” explains Flore Marc, PSPI’s Yachting insurance specialist.

GPS, navigation and stabilization systems, electronic chart display systems, security cameras, engine management and anchoring systems, to jacuzzi lights, all are computer-controlled and therefore at risk. And let’s not forget the wi-fi, often used by owners, guests and crew alike.

“A multitude of entry points for hackers, and it’s vital to protect yourself against them”.

Because attacks are easy when no protection is in place. Using “ransomware”, hackers take user data hostage – in just a few minutes – and then demand a ransom from the targeted yacht. This operation can be carried out by hackers from the comfort of a café or their own home, without the need for extensive computer knowledge. “It’s even possible to modify GPS systems to cause collisions with other ships,” adds the expert.


And these attacks have continued to multiply since the pandemic: “Cyber threats to yachts have increased since COVID, a period which led wealthy individuals to isolate themselves on their yachts and run their businesses and family offices from these ‘houses on the water’. In many cases, they did so without considering the cybersecurity implications, while sensitive transactions, business decisions, portfolios managed on board, are all targets for hackers.”


So, what can you do to guard against the risks?


First, carry out a cyber-risk audit and equip yourself with appropriate software. “But that’s not enough,” says Flore. “As experts in special property insurance, we have to inform our customers about this risk, and include it in the insurance package. It’s then up to them to raise awareness among their teams. While yacht crews are familiar with fire drills, how many yachts and yacht management companies have prepared for cyber-attacks and carry out regular drills? Answer: almost none.

She concludes:

“Anticipation is key, as is the understanding that an attack impacting the yacht is more a question of ‘when‘ than ‘if’. It’s essential that crew members and yacht owners keep abreast of current developments in cybersecurity to protect their vessels from possible attacks. Also, carry out regular audits to correct technological vulnerabilities / loopholes. Finally, investing in dedicated Cyber insurance policies can help reduce the financial losses associated with a cyber attack on your yacht.”

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