Cheap homemade equipment can disrupt ships tracking system and interrupt communications between ships and Port authorities.
Senior researcher at Trend Micro anti-virus vendor Marco Balduzzi and independent researcher Alessandro Pasta described three new types of attacks that can be directed to the Automatic Identification System ( AIS) at Hack in the Boxconference in Amsterdam, AIS is used by more than 40,000 vessels worldwide and broadcast ship location, navigation status, speed and location of coastal stations. Port authorities also uses AIS to send important information to ships.
Security experts warned last year that the lack in AIS authentication and communication protocol may allow pirates, terrorists and cyber criminals to distort the information sent to the vessel, or by specifying an incorrect location of the ships. Researchers conducted an experiment on the ground, using equipment costing $ 600 and were able to send a signal to a distance of 20 miles, but in the sea and it can reach a greater distance, due to less interference. With less than $100 electronic parts you can make an AIS transponder.AIS is essentially an automatic radio beacon, when it receives a signal from a nearby AIS equipped ship, responds with the ship’s identity, course, and speed.
AIS can also be used as a channel for exploiting vulnerabilities in softwares installed on ships server systems that collect and process data . Researchers have found the possibility of SQL-injection with AIS on ships server system where captains used to store data about the weather forecast and other vessel data,with SQLi Vulnerability attacker can completely remove or replace the database informations.
Security experts spoof Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS).DGPS is more accurate than GPS and If the recieving data stream is fabricated DGPS , ship will depart from an established intended course. They were able to spoof the route of boats
According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN agency responsible for the safety of navigation. All courts, which are passenger and carry out international flights must use AIS. Fully solution to this problem will require embedding secure data transmission protocol in the security system and then upgrade or replacement AIS equipment installed on ships, ports and ground stations.
According reuters article
In January, a British cyber security research firm, NCC Group, found flaws in one vendor’s ECDIS software that would allow an attacker to access and modify files, including charts. “If exploited in a real scenario,” the company concluded, “these vulnerabilities could cause serious environmental and financial damage, and even loss of life.”
When the USS Guardian ran aground off the Philippines last year, the U.S. Navy in part blamed incorrect digital charts. A NATO-accredited think-tank said the case illustrated “the dangers of exclusive reliance upon electronic systems, particularly if they are found vulnerable to cyber attack.