Maritime Infrastructure Security Breaches from Drones ‘Becoming a Common Occurrence,’ Says Report

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
A recent report highlights the growing presence of drones above sensitive maritime facilities, signaling a common occurrence. The report also criticizes the effectiveness of current federal counter-UAS legislation, citing a lack of authorities and capabilities to intercept suspicious drones. U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Andrew J. Meyers emphasized the importance of Area Maritime Security Committees (AMSCs) in safeguarding the nation's ports, praising their role in fostering relationships, collaborative planning, communication, and unity of effort. He stressed that AMSCs are crucial for addressing complex threats such as cyber threats, unmanned aerial systems, and active shooter incidents. The AMSCs, established by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002, enhance information sharing, conduct risk assessments, develop mitigation strategies, assist in creating Area Maritime Security Plans (AMSPs), and organize training and exercises. In the past year, AMSCs conducted a significant number of training events, particularly in the Atlantic Area, totaling 938, with 650 focusing on maritime security training operations.

In 2022, ASMC exercises included a cybersecurity tabletop exercise in the Port of NY/NJ and Port of Albany to access readiness during a potential GPS disruption, and a Port Protector exercise in Los Angeles-Long Beach focusing on responding to extended power loss from cyber and physical attacks. Additionally, AMSCs in North Carolina, Southeast Michigan, and Puget Sound Conducted drills to prepare for active shooter threats on passenger ferries. Some ASMCs responded to disruptive bomb threats against the Bridgeport/Port Jefferson ferry system. ASMCs continue to report unauthorized drone flights over regulated facilities, expressing concerns about potential threats.

Security Officer Comments:
In July 2022, there were 15 separate drone incursions reported in Louisiana, prompting the Louisiana State Police (LSP) to seek federal assistance. They recognized the need for specialized drone detection equipment or personnel to identify the drone operators and their locations. In collaboration with LSP, the Security and Emergency Preparedness, Ascension Parish, and local industry stakeholders, Sector New Orleans successfully deployed the Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team C-UAS capability in an emergent operational scenario. The lessons and best practices learned during the first 84 hours of operations will guide its future use.

Suggested Correction(s):
Coast Guard Headquarters has been actively working on enhancing cybersecurity within the Maritime Transportation System (MTS). This includes the creation of a Maritime Industry Cybersecurity Resource Center website in collaboration with CISA and MARAD. This website serves as a centralized hub for cybersecurity resources related to MTS, offering up-to-date information on reporting cyber incidents, relevant policies, guidance, bulletins, alerts, and links to valuable sources. Additionally, the Coast Guard CYBER Command has initiated an annual report called “Cyber Trends and Insights in the Maritime Environment” to provide valuable insights into the evolving cyber landscape within the maritime sector.