The UK’s University of Plymouth is set to establish a new research facility, Cyber-SHIP Lab, to address cybersecurity challenges in the shipping industry.

The lab will host connected maritime systems that are found on a ship’s bridge. The new £3m facility will receive funding for three years and will address various complex and interlinked issues in the maritime industry.

Experts in cybersecurity and information systems will evaluate the systems for weaknesses. Based on the assessment, human and technological changes will be identified to ensure system security in the future.

The university is developing Cyber-SHIP Lab in collaboration with equipment manufacturers, solution developers, shipping and port operators, shipbuilders, classification agencies and insurance companies.

The facility will host maritime technology, including radar equipment, a voyage data recorder (VDR), an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), an automatic identification system (AIS) and communications devices.

It will also complement the existing maritime facilities of the university, including a simulator for training professional seafarers and a lab that examines the latest cybersecurity developments.

Researchers from the University’s Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group and Centre for Security, Communications and Network Research are coordinating the Cyber-SHIP Lab development.

The University of Plymouth Science and Engineering executive dean professor Kevin Jones said: “Cyber-attacks are a Tier 1 National UK threat but although the maritime sector is advancing technologically, it is not well-protected against cyber or cyber-physical attacks and accidents.

“Worth trillions, it has an unmatched reach across international waters, which exposes people and goods to a diverse range of factors, putting the shipping industry at high risk. As such, this facility has never been more timely.”

The facility will help incorporate technological and human behavioural aspects to mitigate threats, especially considering a broad range of vessel types in the maritime industry.

The UK Research and Innovation’s Research England Development (RED) Fund is providing funding for the facility.