The round table of international shipping associations (RT) is developing standards and guidelines to tackle major cyber security issues faced by the shipping industry.

Shipping organisations worldwide are currently concerned about malicious attacks on computer-based systems onboard ships.

The RT has submitted a report to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on the issue, providing measures taken by the industry to address such difficulties.

The shipping associations involved with the RT include BIMCO, ICS, Intercargo and Intertanko.

BIMCO secretary general Angus Frew said: "The round table representing the global shipping industry is taking cyber security seriously.

"The round table representing the global shipping industry is taking cyber security seriously."

"The standards under development are intended to enable equipment manufacturers, service personnel, yards, owners and operators, as well as crew, to ensure their shipboard computer-based systems are managed securely and kept up-to-date to protect against the ever-growing threat from exploitation by criminals."

Major systems installed on modern ships are controlled and monitored by software such as the main engine, steering and navigation systems, and ballast water and cargo-handling equipment.

According to the RT, system protection presents complex issues and is not as simple as operating a firewall or installing virus scanning software into the onboard computers.

In order to mititgate risks, the RT plans to develop standards and guidelines for ship owners and operators.

This guidance will offer ways to minimise the risk of a cyber-attacks through user access management, protect on-board systems, develop contingency plans and manage incidents in the event of occurrence.