USMRC launches cyber awareness course for mariners

Written by Nick Blenkey
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MARCH 16, 2017 — The United States Maritime Resource Center (USMRC), Middletown, RI, has launched an e-learning course, Cyber Awareness for Mariners.

USMRC says the course gives mariners aboard any vessel a better understanding of common vulnerabilities to onboard computer-based networks and industrial control systems to include both operational and information technologies (OT/IT). It also offers tested and effective guidance to help prevent onboard cyber disruptions.

The course is an interactive, web-based learning experience designed “by mariners, for mariners,” and built directly from the industry’s first evidence-based research effort – the USMRC Maritime Cyber Assurance Research program.

Vessel owners and operators, as well as ship management and crew staffing companies, will also benefit from the course, which is derived from actual onboard research and analysis in the marine industrial environment, across numerous vessel types and a wide range of cargo, passenger and specialized operations.

“Our goal is to continuously provide the best and most current information to not only raise awareness, but also help build a more comprehensive understanding of cyber risks to maritime, which is a critical factor in risk management and assurance,” said Captain Alex Soukhanov, USMRC’s founder and director of the Maritime Cyber AssuranceSM Research program.

For the past year, USMRC has included Cyber Awareness for Mariners as an additional module in its U.S. Coast Guard-approved, in-residence Bridge Resource Management, ECDIS, and Leadership and Managerial Skills courses.

“Because the Cyber Awareness for Mariners content has been so well received in our other courses, and the topic is of vital importance to marine operations around the world, we felt it was necessary to be able to offer it to a global audience. By partnering with Marine Learning Systems in Vancouver, BC, we were able to create a customized, short course at a very economical price,” said Captain Soukhanov.

USMRC says the training is a valuable resource available to meet tIMO Interim Draft Guidelines on Maritime Cyber Risk Management, which calls for the “urgent need to raise awareness on cyber risk threats and vulnerabilities.” Additionally, BIMCO’s “Guidelines on Cybersecurity Onboard Ships” strongly recommends cyber awareness training for both shipboard and shore-side staffs throughout the document.

The registration fee for the Cyber Awareness for Mariners e-learning course has been fixed at a very affordable $75. For U.S.-based registrations, a portion of those fees also is tax deductible for federal income tax purposes as USMRC is a 501(c)(3) public charity. All proceeds from the course registrations support the advancement and acceleration of the USMRC Maritime Cyber Assurance Research program.

USMRC is an independent, nonprofit marine operations and maritime risk research center and education institution focused on navigation and operational safety; maritime risk mitigation; human capital development; raising awareness of international shipping maritime trade and transport; and contributing to environmental stewardship.

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