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A cargo ship is moored in the Port of Long Beach while cranes retrieve cargo containers from the ship

Port of Long Beach. Photo: Richard H Grant / Shutterstock.com

White House to Issue Executive Order to Fortify U.S. Ports and Maritime Cybersecurity

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 11065
February 21, 2024

The White House has announced plans to issue an Executive Order enhancing the security of the nation’s ports in a bid to bolster national security, in addition to several other steps aimed at strengthening maritime cybersecurity and fortifying supply chains.

Part of the plan includes the intention to return domestic onshore crane manufacturing capacity to the U.S. to supply secure ship-to-shore cranes to U.S. ports, supported by an investment exceeding $20 billion in U.S. port infrastructure. This action will, in particular, target Chinese-manufactured STS container cranes amid mounting concerns that the cranes have embedded software that is being used by China to spy on the U.S.

Coinciding with the White House’s announcement, the U.S. Maritime Administration has issued an advisory warning industry stakeholders of potential cybersecurity threats from Chinese-manufactured port equipment.

The Executive Order will give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expanded authority to deal with maritime cyber threats, including setting cybersecurity standards for American port networks and systems. The U.S. Coast Guard will now have the clear authority to react to malicious cyber activities in the nation’s marine transportation system (MTS), which currently supports $5.4 trillion worth of economic activity annually.

The order also mandates the reporting of cyber incidents that pose a threat to any vessel, harbor, port, or waterfront facility. In addition, the Coast Guard will have the power to control the movement of vessels presenting a known or suspected cyber threat to U.S. maritime infrastructure.

The Coast Guard will also issue a Maritime Security Directive aimed at cyber risk management for ship-to-shore cranes manufactured by the People’s Republic of China. Owners and operators of these cranes will be required to take a series of actions on these cranes and associated Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) systems.

Furthermore, the U.S. Coast Guard has proposed a rule that will establish minimum cybersecurity requirements that align with international and industry-recognized standards to better manage cyber threats.

In addition to these cybersecurity measures, the government is also committed to rebuilding the U.S.’s industrial capacity to produce port cranes with trusted partners. Over the next five years, the administration plans to invest over $20 billion into U.S. port infrastructure, including through grants, through the President’s Investing in America Agenda, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

As a result of this investment, the White House announced that PACECO Corp., a U.S. subsidiary of Mitsui E&S Co., Ltd, plans to bring its crane production back to the U.S. for the first time in 30 years. The company, which made the first dedicated ship-to-shore container crane in 1958, intends to collaborate with other manufacturers, pending final site and partner selection.

This initiative is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s fourth Investing in America tour, aimed at highlighting the impacts of the President’s agenda on communities, families, small businesses, and the United States’ economic and national security.

Coinciding with the White House’s announcement, the U.S. Maritime Administration has issued an advisory warning industry stakeholders of potential cybersecurity threats from Chinese-manufactured port equipment.

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