The maritime transportation system (MTS) is a complex of arteries crucial to global commerce, energy systems, and the projection of national power. Yet, this same infrastructure is also systemically insecure. Just last month a suspected government-backed operation breached the Port of Houston. Just last week, the Danish offshore wind turbine manufacturer Vestas was hit by ransomware that completely shut down their systems. Maritime cybersecurity is a significant source of risk for the United States and its allies that must be better addressed.

In September, the U.S. Coast Guard released its updated Cyber Strategic Outlook, with the goal of clearly identifying priorities for maritime cybersecurity and delineating roles and responsibilities within USCG to help address this issue set. In early October, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative released, Raising the Colors: Signaling for Cooperation on Maritime Cybersecurity. The report identified near and long-term steps for the US to collaborate with allies and the private sector in reducing cybersecurity risk to the MTS. Just last month, Senator Angus King and Representative Michael Gallagher helped bring attention to the issue set in an op-ed. However, there is still much to do – and any path forward must be taken collectively.

Please join the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, in a virtual public discussion at 3:00-4:30 pm EST on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 to identify how to make progress on these actions to better secure the MTS.


Welcoming remarks

Barry Pavel
Senior Vice President and Director, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security
Atlantic Council

Opening remarks

The Hon. Angus King


Rear Admiral John W. Mauger
Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy (CG-5P)
U.S. Coast Guard

Gary Kessler
Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security
Cyber Statecraft Initiative

Josie Long
Cyber Security Consultant

Sean Kline
Director of Maritime Affairs
Chamber of Shipping of America


Nina Kollars
Associate Professor, Cyber and Innovation Policy Institute (CIPI)
Naval War College

In-Depth Research & Reports

Oct 4, 2021

Raising the colors: Signaling for cooperation on maritime cybersecurity

By William Loomis, Virpratap Vikram Singh, Dr. Gary C. Kessler, Dr. Xavier Bellekens

Few industries are as critical to the global economy as the maritime transportation system (MTS). However, the efficient operation of the MTS is at risk, as the industry is increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats. The MTS must work to raise its baseline for cybersecurity and better protect its actors from systemic cyber threats going forward.

Cybersecurity Maritime Security

The Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, under the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), works at the nexus of geopolitics and cybersecurity to craft strategies to help shape the conduct of statecraft and to better inform and secure users of technology.