DP World: What about all the delayed cargo?

For cargo, cyber is often excluded

DP World: What about all the delayed cargo?


By Daniel Wood

DP World, the global port terminal operations company, restarted its activities at Australia’s ports early this week, allowing billions of dollars’ of imports and exports to move again. However, news reports say the firm doesn’t expect to know the cause of the cyber attack that halted its operations anytime soon.

The Dubai-headquartered company has expert local assistance to help deal with the attack and the investigation. The Australian cyber authorities involved include the National Cyber Security Coordinator, the Australian Cyber Security Centre, the Australian Federal Police and the minister for cyber security, Clare O’Neil.

Insurance Business has reached out to DP World to find out more about the investigation and whether the attack is covered by a cyber insurance policy. IB hopes to publish any relevant response in the coming days.

Cyber exclusions for cargo insurance

When it comes to insurance, it’s likely that the goods in delayed containers do not have cyber coverage.

“Most marine cargo insurance policies have exclusions for loss damage, liability or expense directly or indirectly caused a cyber-attack such as this one,” said Daniel Morrison (pictured above), head of the marine portfolio for transport and logistics insurer NTI.

The range of cargo delayed by the cyber-attack, according to news reports, includes medical supplies, videogames, air-conditioners, furniture and pharmaceuticals. A range of perishable goods were also stuck in containers.

Did the attack impact perishable goods?

“All industries with goods going through DP World operated ports have been impacted,” said Morrison. “As with any interruption in the supply chain, time-sensitive and perishable goods can be impacted more quickly. However, reporting and commentary from DP World showed they were cognisant of this and were working to limit the impact on those goods.”

In March the firm announced the opening of a one-stop refrigerated container facility in Sydney. A post on the firm’s website describes it as “the largest of its kind in Sydney and one of the biggest in Australia.” The facility, said the release, will help ensure “the quality and freshness of perishable cargo delivered to destinations around the globe.”

According to its website, DP World’s storage facilities and inspectors are able to monitor temperature, humidity “and quality at every stage” to ensure “freshness.”

Morrison said cyber attacks on port facilities on this scale have happened before.

“We have seen cyber incidents and attacks affecting port infrastructure and operations in the past, for example, earlier this year Port of Nagoya in Japan which handles around 10% of Japan’s trade suspended operations,” he said.

Russian hackers attacked a Japanese port

In July, Japanese media reported that LockBit, a type of ransomware linked with Russian-speaking hackers, was used in an attack on the country’s busiest shipping port.

According to a Nagoya Harbor Transportation Association statement quoted in a CNN report, the hacking incident knocked the computer system that handles shipping containers offline.

Port of Nagoya is a hub for car exports. According to CNN, this was the first reported ransomware attack on a Japanese port.

Most devastating cyber-attack in history

“We’ve also seen shipping lines affected,” said Morrison. “The most significant of which was Maersk, who back in 2017 had their global operations impacted by a cyber incident.”

A malware cyber attack on the Copenhagen-based global transport and energy company locked access to shipping terminal operations systems worldwide for about two weeks. According to the LA Times, the incident cost Maersk $200 million to $300 million, the company said this week.

The LA Times referred to the attack as “unchartered territory” and said the company’s workers were forced to improvise using Twitter, WhatsApp and Post-It notes to get goods moving again.

DP World operates container terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle. In a comment on social media, Claire O’Neil, the home affairs minister, said the firm handles nearly 40% of the goods coming in and out of Australia. The Dubai headquartered company disconnected from the internet on Friday to contain damage.

In a statement quoted by ABC News, the firm said it is investigating if personal information “has been impacted and has taken proactive steps to engage the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner."

Are you an industry stakeholder with customers impacted by DP World’s cyber attack? Please tell us what you can below.

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