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Major delays to container movement in Australia following a “cyber breach”

Major delays to container movement in Australia following a “cyber breach”
Major delays to container movement in Australia following a “cyber breach”

Details around DP World Australia’s hack are still sketchy, as the government is yet to determine the reasons. Port operator DP World (DPW) has been shut down since Friday.

DP World has been off the entire weekend, and it’s still struggling to restart operations. 

It’s a race against time to get the port operator up and running again without any further security risks. There are multiple investigations underway at the moment. The National Co-ordination Mechanism and federal police are among those investigating.

DPW is one of Australia’s largest port terminal operators in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Fremantle. It’s responsible for 40% of the country’s maritime freight. 

Locate2u CEO Steve Orenstein says it’s quite surprising that an organization of this size with a large impact on the Australian economy, does not have data redundancy mechanisms in place.

“If they are having a cyberattack, surely there’s a separate network with a replication of their infrastructure and software that should be able to operate in the event of a cyber attack. It might take them a few hours to switch over to that, but they won’t be down for many days like what’s been happening here.”

Impact on operation

The disruptions at ports have been crippling. Experts say it could take “quite some time” unless the issue is resolved by tonight. 

The impact on operations so far includes:

  • Four major DPW ports are directly affected.

  • Export recieval cargo is directly impacted and is unable to process.

  • Trucks are unable to be authorized to enter the landside operations of terminals.

  • Import discharge cargo has been less impacted.

  • Ship movement has been unaffected so far. 

There are fears that the cyber breach could indirectly affect Christmas peak season deliveries. 

DP World Australia’s cyber breach

As a precaution, the International Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of Australia (IFCBAA) is urgently updating its security systems. CEO Scott Carson says there are no apparent reports that the technology or software has been directly compromised with this development. Still, members should take extra measures to protect what they can control within their systems.

“I have requested the DPW senior management that the industry be provided with an update on this situation.. and for the proposed process for this coming week for the industry interface with DPW to be provided. [This is to help] operationally, members, carriers, and the industry to deal with these temporary processes until this issue is resolved. [Also until] the building backlog of container movements through these terminals clears.

Cyber experts say the impact of this incident could be “significant.” There are reports that this could also have huge implications on the supply chain, which could have a ripple effect on rate increases. 

Orenstein says: “The impact now would be on retailers. They are receiving a lot of their orders for Christmas and there may be some stock issues that may occur as a result of this incident. This will have an impact on consumers and also businesses, but overall Australia’s economy.”

He says there are businesses in Australia exporting and looking to get products into other markets before Christmas. “This will have a knock-on effect on the products getting out of Australia. Hopefully, the outage doesn’t continue for a long time throughout this week.”

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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