Maritime Hacking, Phishing and AI

ChatGPT—a language AI chatbot—is being used for everything from composing emails to writing code, but could it also be used for hacking?

Maritime vessels are becoming increasingly updated with electronically controlled components otherwise known as Information Technology (IT) systems. As such, vessels are becoming increasingly susceptible to cyber attacks, especially if a vessel is not equipped with a cybersecurity action plan. According to Mission Secure, while a majority of people view cyber-attacks as high or medium risks, a majority of people believe their organization doesn’t protect their vessels from cyber threats.

Phishing scams are a common means by which hackers place malicious software on computers. In a phishing scam, a hacker targets people via an email or message, oftentimes expertly disguised to look legitimate, and requests an action, like following a link. ChatGPT could make writing this type of email easier and more convincing, as ChatGPT is able to cover up typos, or format errors that may otherwise expose a phishing scam.

A hacker has the potential to reap large rewards from attacking and grounding a vessel, like taking advantage of the resulting stock market changes. But, grounded vessels can have extremely costly implications for the shipping industry. As a result, it’s imperative that protections against cyber threats, especially those produced by ChatGPT, are seriously considered and implemented by maritime workers.

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