Cybersecurity on the High Seas

With increased digitization and networking aboard ships, the risk for data abuse and cybercrime also increases exponentially. Anyone considering the possibilities of Maritime 4.0 must also consider the increased requirements for cybersecurity – and more importantly, find suitable solutions for implementing it. WAGO understands this need and provides a range of effective cybersecurity solutions.

Why use WAGO?

  • WAGO establishes such VPN tunnels using OpenVPN or IPsec directly from the WAGO PFC200 Controller, for example.
  • The WAGO controller additionally records relevant measurement and control data, encrypts it directly using SSL encryption and transmits the data via a VPN.
  • Our Media Access Control Security switches provide an additional layer of point-to-point security with high network performance and no noticeable latency.

Product Highlights


Data Security in Focus

At many points, advantages result from networking these subsystems – for example, when ship operations can run with greater resource or energy efficiency. The exchange of sensitive data also increases everywhere systems are networked. And yet this is not enough. In comparison to applications on land, ships have additional electronics like navigation, tracking and collision warning systems. They serve the safety of the ship; however, they also represent an additional threat, primarily because they not only increase the level of onboard networking, but also establish external connections. Internet-based network technologies or mobile services are seeing greater use for these connections. And these communication paths provide access points for manipulation – particularly at the points between the ship and land.

Functional Safety at Risk?

Access to or the reading of sensitive data is a comparatively less important problem when compared with the effects caused by hackers introducing malware into the control systems of ships or drilling rigs, altering coordinates, or accessing a vessel’s security-relevant subsystems. These acts don’t just endanger cybersecurity, they also impede functional safety, and ultimately the crew’s safety. This is precisely why recommendations regarding cybersecurity have increased along with the level of digitization and networking. The American Bureau of Shipping, the Baltic and International Maritime Council, Lloyd’s Register Group, the UK Chamber of Shipping, and the European Union Agency for Network and Information Society have all published guidelines regarding cybersecurity aboard ships. In general, they define processes, model approaches or technical measures for implementing cybersecurity; for the most part, these align with the guidelines for automation technology.


The reasons for remote access vary greatly between shipping companies and OEMs.

“IT by Design” Instead of “Defense in Depth”

There also seems to be agreement that additional communication relations are generated by Industry 4.0 or Maritime 4.0, providing an increasing potential for cyberattacks. What is more important is that isolation concepts are reaching their limits. This is because of the opportunities provided by networking, which both increases the frequency of outside access and allows much deeper penetration into the ship's automation systems than before. There is a completely transparent reason for this: by using remote solutions, shipping companies obtain the possibility for remote diagnosis of their ships, which allows them to optimize their fleets and remarket the recorded data. In addition, they can reduce labor costs if fewer personnel or a less qualified crew is used that can receive support from engineers on land for repairs.

Why Permit External Access?

And finally, better networking of shipping companies and harbor unions improves the logistics at the docks and reduces fuel consumption for the ships. Simply preventing external access cannot be a solution for fixing security on ships. Defense in depth, however, which has previously been considered as state of the art, will soon become insufficient – even if it starts with access limitations, network segmentations and monitoring systems on the various levels of ship automation

Security concepts are increasingly required that always function, regardless of the time or remote access point. The new demand is for “IT Security by Design,” that is, functions of cybersecurity that are integrated from the start into the configuration of a layer-based security architecture in the controllers.


Typical systems on ships that use big data and have undergone increasing levels of networking.


Steadfast with WAGO

WAGO meets the current challenges of this industry with its comprehensive solution portfolio. Our components for marine applications stand up to the most extreme environments and provide many years of service.

Your Benefits:

  • Bridge approval based on IEC EN 60945
  • Classified for extreme environments (approved for use in the engine room)
  • Low storage and training costs
  • Broad application scope for the WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750
  • Simple, fast, affordable engineering

Industrial Internet of Things


For Tomorrow's Industry

Our industrial world is being disrupted at an ever-accelerating rate. Digitalization, and the myriad transformative processes therein, continue to move apace as well. With solutions for cloud connectivity, IIoT and smart automation, WAGO has helped our partners shape the future while keeping a constant scrutinizing eye on current advances in cybersecurity and safety.

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