Port of Antwerp steps up fight against cybercrime

23 Oct 2013

The Antwerp port community is to set up a taskforce before the end of this year to stiffen the port's defences against cybercrime. The initiative comes in response to recent computer hacks that enabled containers to be abstracted from the port in an apparently legal manner.

The internet is increasingly being used by organised crime. “The fight won’t be easy,” says John Kerkhof of Antwerp Port Community System (APCS). “The taskforce will mainly work pre-emptively, by sharing best practices and learning from each other’s experience.” In addition to port companies the taskforce will also include CERT (the federal cyber emergency team).

APCS was set up several years ago to standardise and share the IT applications developed by separate port companies. Applications that are relevant to the port community as a whole are made available by APCS to everyone. For instance, a few months ago MSC introduced a new Container Release System that enables containers to be collected from the port in a more secure manner. Users have to log into a secure portal site where they must identify themselves in order to gain access to the container release data. This technology has now been made available port-wide, thanks to APCS. “The great advantage of this application is that the crucial information needed to collect a container is not made up until the very last stage. Previously this information appeared earlier in the chain, so that various people could access it, thus increasing the chances of nefarious action,” explains Karel Vanderheyden of Avantida, the IT partner that helped to develop the technology.

But there is more to cyber-security than just technology: port users must also sharpen up their attitude. “The best antivirus is the user. Technology alone will not stand in the way of criminal organisations,” John Kerkhof emphasises. “We all have to realise what difference we ourselves can make by being alert in our online environment. Cyber-security is the responsibility of every IT user.”

Antwerp Port Authority, press release