Critical Infrastructure Protection & Resilience Asia

Cherine Abdalla

Cherine S. Abdalla
Cyber Threat Intelligence Researcher, Security Engineering Research Team (SERT)
Solutionary, Inc.
United States

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Cherine Abdalla works on the Security Engineering Research Team for Solutionary, Inc., which is under the larger umbrella of NTT Group Security. She has lead responsibility to direct the full integration of traditional intelligence analysis within the cyber security framework for targeted threat intelligence. Her current research and doctoral proposal is focused on the maritime transportation industry as a global critical infrastructure domain and the emergence of organized threat actors that are forming limited strategic partnerships across both physical and digital worlds targeting this domain for economic, strategic and political value.

She currently holds an MSc in both Intelligence Analysis and Information Assurance/Cybersecurity from the University of Detroit Mercy and certifications in Critical Infrastructure Protection from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

Targeted Cyber Threats to the Maritime Critical Infrastructure and Its Effect on the Global Supply Chain

The maritime transportation industry is a global critical infrastructure domain that is currently experiencing emerging cyber threats within their navigation, communications and operations systems. As shipping moves 90% of the goods around the planet a small, targeted and prolonged cyber attack against a specific vessel(s) or a strategic port facility created to cause disruption can cripple the global supply chain. There is an increasing trend of hacking shipboard navigation systems for the purpose of theft, piracy or disruption. Most shipboard electronic systems were developed in the 1970’s and 80’s where network security was not a consideration currently leaving their vulnerabilities wide open to cyber exploits. Organized cyber threat actors are forming limited strategic partnerships across physical and digital worlds. These actors are defined by their prolific technical skills and are exceptionally good at environmental scanning in the search of new criminal enterprises. The primary focus of the maritime has rested myopically on the threat of piracy and kidnapping possibly due to familiarity with familiar historical precedent. However, the culture and delayed reactive nature of the industry is a primary hindrance that has lent itself to widespread denial that exists as to the serious nature of the cyber security threat being faced and the subsequent economic, strategic and political value to both defender and attacker.