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Cybercrime on board: A new threat targeting superyacht owners?

By LLM Reporters on 17th October 2018

Many of us have dreamt of taking a cruise around the world as the ideal vacation, taking in the sun on board and mooring on a different exotic island every other day. And it doesn’t get more luxurious than taking a cruise with your own superyacht. Most of the globe’s rich and the famous prefer their own vessels that combine lavishness with a coveted sense of privacy, as they tour the Greek islands or the Caribbean. But it seems that they have an unexpected headache to deal with: hackers.

The Luxury Dream Boats of the Rich and the Famous

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Superyachts are the ultimate symbol of wealth and luxury

Superyachts are the ultimate symbol of wealth and luxury. Superyacht owners not only pay a lot of money for building their dream ships, but also for the expenses when sailing around the world. A day of mooring at Marina Di Capri in Italy, the most expensive marina in the world, amounted to $3,369 in 2018, while Marino Di Porto Cervo in Sardinia lowers the cost at $2,904, Ibiza Magna in Spain at $2,762 and French Saint-Tropez to $1,510. A tour of some of the world’s most expensive superyachts, presented by CNN, is proof enough of what these vessels stand for.

Octopus, the superyacht commissioned by Microsoft’s Paul Allen in 2003 for 200 million makes the list, along with Rising Sun, previously owned by Larry Ellison of Oracle, who sold it to music industry magnate David Geffen in 2010 for $590 million. The luxury on board is not only measured in terms of price: Al Said, the superyacht of the Sultan of Oman, has its own concert hall that is spacious enough to accommodate an orchestra of 60 musicians, and 133-meter long Al Mirqab that belongs to the former Prime Minister of Qatar is home to an indoor swimming pool, a movie theater and a helipad. Roman Abramovich, the famous owner of Chelsea FC, reportedly has had a missile defense system installed in his superyacht Eclipse, along with its very own submarine.

Infographic: The Most Expensive Marinas For Superyacht Owners  | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista.

Superyachts Are Vulnerable to Hacker Attacks

But even German-built missiles cannot protect you when the threats come from cyberspace. Although most business moguls know to take cybersecurity seriously in their companies and protect their systems using tools like a WAF, a Web Application Firewall that helps secure against the most dangerous hacker attacks included in the OWASP Top 10 threats list, it seems that superyacht owners are still a bit oblivious to how vulnerable their super-vessels are. According to a report published by CNN on July 3rd, 2018, superyachts are filled with potential vulnerabilities across a wide range of the advanced electronic systems used for navigation, including radio transmitters, GPS, satellite receivers, and radar systems.

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Superyacht owners not only pay a lot of money for building their dream ships, but also for the expenses when sailing around the world

Many superyachts are also home to rooms dedicated to financial transactions and deals, as billionaires often have to conduct business while on vacation. This means that they have Bloomberg Terminals filled with financial market data on board, which increases the need for enhanced firewalls. According to CNN, one billionaire saw over $150,000 in funds grabbed by yacht hackers who managed to gain access to his bank account. Other incidents reported by the same source include hackers launching ransomware attacks on yacht navigation systems and demanding money to unlock them, as well as blackmailing rich superyacht owners by gaining access to private pictures on the ship’s media server.

Superyacht owners are starting to turn to cybersecurity specialists with the expertise to protect them. After all, cruising the Mediterranean in a superyacht is hardly relaxing when you have to worry about hackers, too.