Shipping Giant COSCO Hit by Ransomware

Chinese state-owned shipping and logistics company COSCO was reportedly hit by a piece of ransomware that disrupted some of its systems in the United States.

COSCO, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, described the incident as a “local network breakdown” in the Americas region. The firm says it has suspended connections with other regions while it conducts an investigation.

“So far, all vessels of our company are operating normally, and our main business operation systems are stable. We are glad to inform you that we have taken effective measures and aside from the Americas region, the business operation within all other regions will be recovered very soon. The business operations in the Americas are still being carried out, and we are trying our best to make a full and quick recovery,” COSCO stated.

While COSCO’s statement does not mention a cyberattack, the company told some news outlets that the disruptions are the result of a ransomware attack.

According to researcher Kevin Beaumont‏, the impacted infrastructure hosts COSCO’s website (cosco-usa.com), phone and email systems, and WAN and VPN gateways. The expert pointed out that the company resorted to using Twitter and Yahoo email accounts to communicate with customers.

The company’s U.S. systems still appear to be offline at the time of writing. It’s unclear if this was a targeted attack or if COSCO’s systems became infected as part of an opportunistic ransomware campaign.

If COSCO was truly hit by ransomware – it’s not uncommon for companies to misclassify cyber threats in the initial phases of an investigation – it would not be the first time a major shipping company has fallen victim to this type of attack.

One of the victims of last year’s NotPetya campaign, which caused losses of hundreds of millions of dollars for several major companies, was Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller–Maersk, which revealed that the incident forced its IT team to reinstall software on its entire infrastructure, including 45,000 PCs and 4,000 servers.

As a result of the attack, Maersk employees had to manually process 80 percent of the work volume while systems were being restored and the incident cost the company over $300 million.

Source: Hellenic shipping news

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Eight robbers board ship in Chittagong anchorage

In its weekly report for 17-23 July, ReCAAP ISC informs of one incident of armed robbery against a ship, reported by Focal Point (Japan) and Contact Point (Hong Kong). The incident took place in the early morning hours of 4 July in Bangladeshi waters and involved the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier ‘Medi Firenze’.

The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

The last actual incident of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebs Seas occurred on 23 March 2017 and the last attempted incident on 16 February 2018.

However, as the threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Sea is not eliminated, ReCAAP ISC maintains its advisory issued via the ReCAAP ISC Incident Alert dated 21 November 2016 to all ships to reroute from the area, where possible.

Source: Safety4Sea

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Bahri VLCC damaged in Red Sea attack by Houthi rebels

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry suspends all oil shipments through the Bab-al Mandeb Strait after Wednesday attack that damaged one of the tanker giants VLCCs.

Saudi Arabia has identified two Bahri VLCCs as being the vessels attacked by Yemen’s Houthi movement in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday morning.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement that both VLCCs were fully laden at the time, and identified Bahri as the owner.

One of the VLCCs sustained minimal damage, the statement said.

“Fortunately, there were no injuries or oil spill that would have resulted in catastrophic environmental damage,” it read.

” Efforts are currently underway to move the damaged ship to the nearest Saudi port.”

Bahri confirmed today that one of its VLCCs was damaged in what it described as an incident in the Red Sea.

“The VLCC suffered minor damage and no human injuries or environmental damage have been reported,” the company said in a statement sent to TradeWinds, without elaborating further or identifying the ship.

Saudi Arabia has suspended oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait pending an assessment of the security situation in the area.

“Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb Strait immediately until the situation becomes clearer and the maritime transit through Bab al-Mandeb is safe,” the Energy Minister’s statement said.

The Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which runs close to the shoreline of Yemen, is the main shipping lane linking the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.

It considered one of the world’s most strategic waterways and is heavily patrolled by United Nations naval forces.

The Houthi movement has in the past threatened and attacked vessels carrying Saudi oil because of the active role the country is playing in Yemen’s ongoing civil war.

Source: Tradewinds

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Coalition destroys Al Houthi boat off coast

UAE forces down two booby-trapped drones targeting Yemeni government loyalists and civilians.

Cairo: UAE forces, part of an Arab Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-allied Al Houthis in Yemen, destroyed a boat loaded with explosives near the country’s western coast, the official agency WAM reported on Tuesday.

The boat belonging to Al Houthi militants was being used to carry out terrorist operations in a major navigation route in the Red Sea, the agency added.

The Iran-aligned extremists have repeatedly threatened to attack oil tankers using Bab Al Mandab, a vital waterway between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.

Last month, the Arab Coalition unleashed a massive offensive dubbed Golden Victory aimed at driving Al Houthis out of the Red Sea city of Hodeida in west Yemen.

The campaign, the biggest in Yemen’s three-year-old war, has been temporarily halted in support of UN efforts to restart long-stalled peace talks and avert an all-out battle in Hodeida.

Al Houthis are believed to have taken advantage of the pause to replenish their military arsenal and ramp up their violations against civilians.

The UAE forces linked to the Coalition also intercepted and downed two drones carrying explosives, WAM reported on Tuesday.

Both Iranian Qasef-1 drones were aimed at Yemeni forces loyal to the internationally recognised government supported by the coalition in the coastal city of Al Mokha, and a densely populated area in the district of Al Khokha, WAM added.

The aborted attacks were planned by Al Houthis to make up for the military setbacks they have recently suffered in the West Coast area, according to observers.

Hodeida is strategically important because its harbour is considered a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, as most of the commercial imports and relief supplies enter through it to the country.

Al Houthis have been in control of Hodeida since their late 2014 coup against the legitimate government of Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Coalition accuses Al Houthis of taking advantage of their control of Hodeida port to obtain weapons from their Iranian patrons as well as confiscate aid intended for Yemenis in order to sustain their war efforts.

In 2015, the Saudi–led alliance started a military campaign in Yemen after Al Houthis advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary seat of the internationally recognised government, after the militants overran the capital Sana’a months earlier.

Source: Gulf news

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The war on ocean piracy just got some fresh help from space

A surveillance system that can track ships and boats all over the world in real time and can be accessed from an iPhone has gone online.

Italian firm Leonardo launched its SEonSE (Smart Eyes on the Seas) platform Tuesday at the Farnborough International Airshow in the U.K.

The defense company claims the new platform makes it possible to view the exact position of a vessel at any moment.

Piracy on the high seas costs shippers and insurers hundreds of millions of dollars each year and is particularly prevalent around Southeast Asia and West Africa.

The new platform has been touted as a big step as it can spot if a ship has stopped or deviated from its mapped course.

“Within seconds, people will be able to note unusual activity from a ship,” said Luigi Pasquali, Leonardo’s coordinator of space activities.

Aside from security threats, Pasquali said the technology would aid in the fight against illegal fishing, help marine law enforcement and provide better market analysis for firms that regularly use shipping lanes.

“A huge amount of data is automatically processed in real-time for the protection of people and the maritime environment,” Pasquali added in a statement.

The raw data is collated from several satellites, some of which transmit a radar system providing the exact position of vessels. Others provide imagery, meaning the system will be able to track vessels that choose not to comply with identification requirements at sea.

SEonSE also factors in the Automatic Identification System (AIS) of small transponders fitted to shipping vessels worldwide. These continuously broadcast each vessel’s position and Leonardo said there are 7 million AIS signals sent every day.

Information from the world registry of ships, as well as weather and oceanographic information, are also crunched by Leonardo’s big data platform. The information is stored in the cloud, allowing tailored information to be continuously accessed by computers, tablets or phones.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

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Piracy danger continues in Gulf of Guinea, IMB says

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) published its second quarterly report. The report says that 107 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first six months of 2018. In addition, all 2018 crew kidnappings have taken place in the Gulf of Guinea in six separate incidents.

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Fight for Port of Hodeidah Stalls

The Saudi- and UAE-backed campaign to retake the port of Hodeidah, Yemen from Houthi rebels has come to a near-halt, one month after Yemeni government forces began their offensive. Despite promises of a quick, decisive victory that would give the Saudi-led coalition new leverage in negotiations with the Houthis, the battle lines remain stalled at Hodeidah’s airport, which lies on the other side of the city from the port complex.

While the fighting has slowed, the coalition has not indicated any change in its desire to retake the port and expel Houthi forces from the city. In UN-facilitated negotiations, the coalition’s members continue to insist that the Houthis must withdraw, unconditionally. As a compromise, Houthi leaders have offered to transfer control of port operations to the United Nations if they can remain in the city.

Some international observers – notably the Democratic party leadership in the United States Congress – have expressed support for this arrangement, and have encouraged the coalition to accept it as an alternative to a protracted seige. In a letter to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Representatives Steny Hoyer, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Adam Schiff and Ted Deutch called for assurances that the port of Hodeidah’s operations would continue uninterrupted, and suggested that the coalition should “be flexible with regard to [its] requirements” – in particular, the demand that the Houthis leave the city and port.

Rep. Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, linked his concerns over Hodeidah to American assistance. The Saudi coalition’s air campaign is facilitated by foreign in-flight refueling services, and its ground forces are resupplied with munitions purchased abroad. The U.S. State Department approved a $1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia in March, including $670 million for anti-tank missiles, $100 million for military helicopter maintenance, and $300 million in parts for Saudi tanks and military vehicles. “If an offensive by Saudi Arabia and the UAE further escalates the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, President Trump must make it clear that it will jeopardize the U.S. support that has helped enable the military campaign in Yemen,” said Rep. Schiff.

However, a political agreement to end the fighting may take some time to materialize. In a statement carried by pro-coalition social media, Yemeni Republican Guards Brigadier Tariq Saleh said that he is “preparing for the post-Hodeidah-battle,” and will continue to advance until the Houthi capital at Sanaa is retaken. Social media reports indicate that coalition airstrikes and fighting around the airport continue.

Humanitarian concerns

Aid groups have expressed concern that fighting in Hodeidah could lead to casualties among Yemen’s civilian population, including some of the estimated eight million people who are already at risk of starvation in the country. Hodeidah is the primary port of entry for Yemen’s food and medicine imports, and an interruption in the flow of relief supplies could have an impact on aid efforts. Separately, damage to water mains and sewer lines could raise the risk of a cholera outbreak within the city – especially given Yemen’s hot weather.

An estimated 35,000 people have fled to escape the fighting on Hodeidah’s outskirts, according to the charity Mona Relief, including 12,000 people who traveled inland to Sanaa. Aid groups are distributing food in Sanaa to assist displaced families.

Source: The Maritime Executive

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Is there conspiracy against Nigeria?

*As report pressures freight, insurance rates *Nigeria may still lead Q2 ‘18 piracy ranking There are indications that the upcoming security   report on Nigeria’s marine space may worsen with operators accusing international interest groups of mischief over the report. But Nigerian maritime industry stakeholders also indicated that despite the controversial nature of the figures on piracy attacks the number of incidences would certainly increase and Nigeria would maintain lead on the global piracy ranking in the second quarter, 2018.

Top 5 pirates prone countries: Q1’18 and Pirates attack on vessels: Q1’18 The International Maritime Bureau, IMB, in its first quarter 2018, Q1’18, reports, noted that Nigeria currently leads in global pirates attacks against vessels. In the IMB report, Nigeria alone recorded a total of 22  of the 45 as against Indonesia that recorded nine attacks and Venezuela has five attacks in the first three months of the year. Global pirate attacks while four other countries namely Venezuela, Indonesia, Republic of Benin and Bangladesh recorded a total of 23 attacks.

A breakdown of the report showed that Bangladesh recorded four and  Republic of Benin had five while. Although, maritime security experts have contested the figure of the IMB, saying that number of attacks recorded in Nigeria during the quarter is likely to be lower, some foreign shipping firms confided in Vanguard Maritime Report  that Nigeria do not have credible data as information on attacks go straight to the foreign ship owners who in turn report to the international organisation (IMB) rather than Nigerian authorities.

Some Nigerian operators have played down the figures, attributing it to plans by the developed countries to paint developing countries such as Nigeria, in security bad light, leading to increase in freight rates and marine insurance. Speaking with  Vanguard Maritime Report, President of the Ship-owners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, and  Managing Director/CEO of Starzs Marine and Engineering Limited, Greg Ogbeifun, said the report should not be taken serious as it is only meant to promote the interest of international operators.

According to him, “Personally I am not too bordered about piracy or whatever, they are always working to paint Nigeria black. I am not moved by their comments and that is the truth. They are the ones that are encouraging all these strives and unrest in all the developing countries and then they will also turn around to begin to complain. “I said there wouldn’t have been piracy in this country if there were no international connection to illegal bunkering. Those people are the ones behind all these problems we talk about. So they should stop stoking all these improprieties against developing countries, they should stop encouraging it.

“All the piracy money, all the kidnapping money that they are collecting, who is collecting it, are they paying the money into Nigerian banks? They are not paying the money into Nigerian backs; they are paying it into foreign countries. “They are the ones encouraging it, some I do not think that we should be overly blaming ourselves or feeling bad because some foreign body says that Nigeria has now become a hub for piracy.” On whether members of SOAN has not been affected he responded, “Am not aware of any of my members who have been affected, most of the piracy attacks take place far away from the coast of Nigeria, it is not necessarily in-country attack.

There was a time we use to have such attacks but for sometimes now we have not had in-country piracy attacks.” Similarly, the Chairman of the Port Facility Security Officers, PFSO Forum, Dr. Ignatius Uche, agreed with school of thought that there could be a conspiracy against Nigeria in this regard. He said that the issue of pirate attacks on vessels at the terminal has put virtually every government agency operating at the ports on their toes as the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has approved money for the purchase of patrol boats to checkmate the activities of these criminals.

Uche described the situation as very embarrassing adding that the trend was beginning to put Nigeria on the spot in the international maritime comity. He said that figures being bandied by the IMB are not the same with what is recorded by the Nigerian authorities.

According to him the official Nigerian figure should be around 13 attacks in Q1’18. But going by this figure Nigerian would remain the global leader in piracy as the second highest number of attack recorded by IMB is Indonesia with 9 attacks.

However, Uche said “the more these criminals are allowed to operate, the more money and credibility the country is losing. An official of International Ship and Port Facility Security, ISPS Code Unit of NIMASA who spoke to Vanguard Maritime Report on the condition of anonymity said that the issue of pirate attacks on vessels was an international conspiracy by the international shipping community.

The officer said that Nigeria get reports of these attacks from the international maritime organisations as crewmen make these report directly to the principal abroad. The official explained that when these attacks take place, it places high freight premium on Nigerian bound cargoes which attracts more freight payments and marine insurance premium. Former Senior Special Adviser to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Leke Oyewole, told  Vanguard Maritime Report  that “as long as that security gap remains, that there is no proper patrol around the ports and the anchorage, this trend will continue. “For the second quarter 2018 report the figure is likely to increase if nothing is done to stem the tide of pirate attacks on vessels.”

The fear of increase in pirates attack is coming against the cancellation of a maritime security contract by President Muhammedu Buhari due to the protest by a section of maritime stakeholders against what they saw as unwholesome interest in the deal. The cancellation of the contract was commended  by maritime security experts saying that it was absurd for the nation’s Navy to work under a foreign private security firm as provided in the contract terms.

The Nigerian piracy headaches had come a long way prompting the former management of NIMASA to structure an international security contract with Global West Specialist Vessels to address the problem. Under the arrangement NIMASA and Nigerian government was not going to pay any contract sum for the security, rather the contractor would be expected to beef up security to enable NIMASA make money from the ships. In turn the contractor would earn a percentage of the extra revenue. But this arrangement was cancelled by the current administration on grounds that the contract was a conduit pipe to siphon monies from the agency. However, a new security contract was initiated by the present administration where Nigeria would pay USD195 million (about N60billion) to a private security firm for beefing up security at the territorial and coastal waters. But the contract amount raised so much dust that the National Assembly was forced to invite the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaech, who refused to appear before its committees set up to look into the contract.

Eventually President Mohammadu Buhari was forced to cancel the contract and ordered that the USD50 million upfront payment be recovered by the way of getting the foreign contractor to supply items equivalent to the amount. The contract, signed off by the Federal Executive Council in December 2017, would have seen the contractor, HSLi,  an Israeli security firm,  rake in $195 million in exchange for an undisclosed number of special mission aircraft, special mission helicopters and 12 fast intervention vessels for the Nigerian Navy. Reacting to the cancellation of the contract Amaechi, Oyewole, while commending President Buhari for cancelling the contract, said that if that contract had been allowed to work, it would have been worse than the Global West contract. He said that the Nigerian Navy is the authority with legal powers to monitor and protect the nation’s maritime domain adding that the Navy should be funded and provided with patrol boats. “I fully support the cancellation of that contract simply because it would have been worse than the Global West contract because the Navy cannot be subjected to work under a foreign private company. “It is odd for the Nigerian Navy to work under it. It is an absurdity that is inconsiderable. To that extent I support the cancellation of that contract. “In the time of Global West, though it was not security firm, the whole of Nigeria cried foul. “The Navy is the only authority that has the mandate to secure the nation’s maritime space.

The Navy should be properly funded and patrol boats should be provided for them. “During the Jonathan era, Global West contract with NIMASA worked out perfectly. What they (NIMASA) did was to sign an MOU with the Navy and gladly enough, Navy came on board to subdue piracy in Lagos and other maritime space across the Nigerian waters which continue until 2015. “As soon as the NIMASA-Global West was pulled down, there was space for the rascals to operate again. “They started by operating off-shore, now they have developed the effrontery to operate even at the ports which is very bad for Nigeria because the freight of goods coming to Nigeria will increase. “This development is not telling any good story about Nigeria.” Way forward Oyewole suggested that the NPA, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and the NIMASA should form a synergy to provide a security platform, where NNPC can provide fuel and NPA and NIMASA can provide money to buy the boats for Navy to operate so as to build a sustainable arrangement to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria. He suggested that there is a need for the country to have a robust surveillance system adding that all processes of ship operations and payments are integrated with the surveillance system. Oyewole said that there must be electronics platform to report any infractions by vessels anywhere in the country. “A special maritime force should be created and sustainable funding mechanism and the Automated Identification System, AIS, be replaced with a better technology. The AIS should be improved upon and make our waters safe so that the payment of high freight rate and marine insurance premium which has been the target of the foreign shipping firms be stopped,” he stated.

Source: Vanguard, Nigeria

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Suspicious approach – Bab el Mandeb

Date: 11/07/2018

Time: 08:10 UTC

At 0810 UTC on 11 July an MV reported sighting a group of skiffs in PSN – 1322N 04245E (Southern Red sea / Bab El Mandeb) One skiff with 8 POB approached to within 0.2NM and crew report sighting a ladder. No aggressive manoeuvres. AST showed weapons and skiff withdrew.

Source: UKMTO

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13 Abu Sayyaf surrender

The Philippine military on Sunday urged anew Abu Sayyaf bandits to surrender peacefully and return to the fold of the law, after 13 fighters yielded in Sulu. Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said the bandits surrendered over the weekend to the 2nd Special Force Battalion under Lt. Col. Jessie Montoya, in Samak village, Talipao town. Besana said: “The surrenders brought with them assorted high and low-powered firearms and promised to bring more after their initial processing at the headquarters of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion.” He also quoted task force commander Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo as saying: “This is a clear manifestation that we are achieving our goal of clearing Sulu province of the menace of the Abu Sayyaf through peaceful means by giving them a better option and to re-embrace the true essence of Islam.” Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, WestMinCom chief, lauded the decision of the rebels and assured them of government aid as part of “Oplan: Balik-loob.”

Source: Manila times

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