Published in cybersecurity, all | 3 minutes reading time

What to look for in a maritime antivirus solution

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Your vessel and company data is sensitive and valuable, and therefore needs to be protected. At the same time, with ‘the digital ship’ and the resulting increase in digitisation of the maritime industry, your data becomes more vulnerable to hacker attacks and other cyber incidents.

Safeguarding your ships from modern-day cybercrime requires a holistic approach – including a maritime-optimised antivirus to ensure all ship computers and systems are clean.

In our previous blog article, we address why professional antivirus solutions for ships are critical assets in protecting your onboard IT environment. But we also know that a local antivirus alone offers only limited protection and must be combined in a complete set of solutions. Within this ecosystem, let’s focus on the antivirus part and how it can be cleverly used.

When choosing the best maritime antivirus solution for your fleet, what criteria do you need to look for? Below we list the top four.


1. It should use multiscanning

No, we don’t mean installing several antivirus programs on each PC. That is actually a bad idea. We mean splitting the responsibility. Consider this:

a. Many cyber threats use email as transport;

b. Different antivirus engines are better at detecting and cleaning different kinds of malware;

c. By not sending unwanted emails to the ship, we not only improve cybersecurity but also save valuable bandwidth.

By passing every email through a queue of as many virus scanning engines as possible before even sending them onboard, even the most sophisticated cyber threats are likely detected and filtered out.


2. It should always updated even without Internet access

Because malware evolves, antivirus must be always updated - both onshore and onboard.

But, if all emails are filtered out, do we still need a local antivirus? Yes, because not all viruses spread via email (think USB drives, Internet browsing, private emails that have not been cleaned, etc.)

At sea, bandwidth is expensive. Thus, a good maritime antivirus solution optimises how updates are delivered and applied - even if the ship has no Internet connection.


3. It should require low resource usage

A good onboard antivirus solution is ‘lightweight’, meaning it doesn’t consume too much processing resources and make the important tasks slower.

Even though this is valid for all antiviruses, it is particularly important for onboard computers, which cannot be easily upgraded or replaced. On shore, we add more processing power whenever needed to make sure it’s the best and fastest.


4. It should use heuristic detection

Traditional (signature-based) antivirus solutions identify malware by comparing code in a program to the code of known virus types that have already been encountered, analysed and recorded in a database.

Since cybercriminals are constantly developing new threats, signature-based antivirus detection is no longer enough. Advanced heuristic detection, which detects typical malware behaviour, is proactive. It provides the ability to detect malware that has not yet been added to virus definition files, thus addressing current malware more accurately.

Read more: How to secure email traffic on ships


Keeping all of your ship computers and systems clean and protected from constantly evolving cyber threats requires antivirus distribution tailor-made for the maritime industry.

An advanced maritime antivirus solution brings the risk of infection and potential loss of revenue to a minimum.

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What to look for in a maritime antivirus solution
Written by Walter Hannemann, Product Manager

Walter Hannemann started his career in a computer factory product development laboratory in 1983, while taking his education in Electronics and Information Systems. Since then, his jobs have involved software architecture and development, infrastructure design and overall IT management, in both large enterprises and startups. With a passion for “making things work”, shipping applications and all digital things onboard ships became his interest after joining Maersk in 2008. Managing IT in large companies like Maersk Tankers and Torm has given him insider’s knowledge in the shipping industry and enticed his entrepreneurship to help moving the industry into the digital future. Based in Copenhagen as Product Manager for Dualog, Walter enjoys finding solutions for big (and small) problems while keeping the overview and a forward-looking approach, with deep dives in technical subjects when necessary – or possible.

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