Global Shipping – One of the Last ‘Wild West’ Frontiers

October 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

WindwardShipping activity across the world’s oceans is the lifeblood of the global economy, transporting billions of tons of goods annually and facilitating global commodity flows of oil, coal, grains and metals. Vessel activity is also of critical importance to Intelligence and Security agencies worldwide, as criminal and terrorist activity has become increasingly global and borderless.

And yet, the oceans remain one of the last ‘wild west’ frontiers, with limited visibility on what ships are actually doing once they leave port. AIS data, the most widely used data on ship activity worldwide, underlies decisions from Finance to Intelligence, but the data is unreliable and increasingly manipulated by the very ships it seeks to track.

And this trend is growing, fast, with little-understood and far-reaching implications worldwide.

AIS data, used routinely by decision makers across industries, is widely perceived as a reliable source of information on ship activity worldwide. Massive financial investments and critical operational decisions are based on this data.

New research from Windward reveals that AIS data has critical vulnerabilities when used to track ships, an ‘off label’ use of the system. The data is increasingly manipulated by ships that seek to conceal their identity, location or destination for economic gain or to sail under the security radar.

Manipulation practices are varied, according to Windward’s research, and range from Identity Fraud, to Obscuring Destinations, ‘Going Dark,’ Manipulating GPS, and ‘Spoofing’ AIS. Ships that manipulate AIS undermine not only their own data, but the entire maritime global picture — once some of the data is corrupt, all data is suspect.

If this kind of manipulation is occurring on ships, consider the impact of ‘cargoes/substances’ on board ‘ghost ships’. You can find the Windward Research paper “Analysis of the Magnitude and Implications of Growing Data Manipulation at Sea” as well as a poignant infographic on their website, by clicking the hyperlinks. Source: Windward.eu

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