Cmdr. Kramek warns: “The potential consequences of even a minimal disruption of the flow of goods in U.S. ports would be high. The zero-inventory, just-in-time delivery system that sustains the flow of U.S. commerce would grind to a halt in a matter of days; shelves at grocery stores and gas tanks at service stations would run empty. In certain ports, a cyber disruption affecting energy supplies would likely send not just a ripple but a shockwave through the U.S. and even global economy.”
He cites last November’s impact of Hurricane Sandy, which “caused severe damage in the Ports of New York and New Jersey, preventing shipments of petroleum from being offloaded and trucked from ports to filling stations.”
Cmdr. Kramek adds, “Tanks at gas stations across the region quickly ran dry. In just days, residents relying on gasoline generators for heat and power began to panic. In another incident in 2012, labor strikes in the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach forced ships to remain offshore, shutting down terminal operations, and causing truckers and rail cars to back up outside port entrances, resulting in an economic impact of $1 billion per day in lost wages, business revenue, and the value of cargo that had to be diverted to other ports.”
Furthermore, he says that of the six ports he researched, only one (the Port of Long Beach) had undertaken a cybersecurity vulnerability assessment and none had a cyber incident response plan.
“Moreover, of the $2.6 billion allocated to the U.S. Port Security Grant Program—created in the wake of 9/11 to fund new congressionally mandated security requirements at U.S. ports—to date, less than $6 million has been awarded for cybersecurity projects,” concluded Cmdr. Kramek.