Global shipping is still feeling the effects of a cyber attack that hit A.P. Moller-Maersk two days ago, showing the scale of the damage a computer virus can unleash on the technology dependent and inter-connected industry.
About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea, with ships and ports acting as the arteries of the global economy. Ports increasingly rely on communications systems to keep operations running smoothly, and any IT glitches can create major disruptions for complex logistic supply chains.
The cyber attack was among the biggest-ever disruptions to hit global shipping. Several port terminals run by a Maersk division, including in the United States, India, Spain, the Netherlands, were still struggling to revert to normal operations on Thursday after experiencing massive disruptions.
South Florida Container Terminal, for example, said dry cargo could not be delivered and no container would be received. Anil Diggikar, chairman of JNPT port, near the Indian commercial hub of Mumbai, told Reuters that he did not know “when exactly the terminal will be running smoothly”.
His uncertainty was echoed by Maersk itself, which told Reuters that a number of IT systems were still shut down and that it could not say when normal business operations would be resumed.
It said it was not able to comment on specific questions regarding the breach of its IT systems or the state of its cyber security as it had “all available hands focused on practical stuff and getting things back to normal”.
The impact of the attack on the company has reverberated across the industry given its position as the world’s biggest container shipping line and also operator of 76 ports via its APM Terminals division.
Container ships transport much of the world’s consumer goods and food, while dry bulk ships haul commodities including coal and grain and tankers carry vital oil and gas supplies.