Shipping containers piling up in Australia as ports hit by “nationally significant cyber incident”
11/15/2023 // Ethan Huff // Views

Australia's second-largest port operator has been hit by a cyberattack that paralyzed maritime freight movement Down Under.

Australian Federal Police are said to be investigating the cybersecurity incident, which took down container terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle.

DP World Australia, which controls about 40 percent of Australia's maritime freight industry, was forced to shutter operations amid the cyberattack, which left the operator's main system down and prevented trucks from picking up or dropping off containers.

"The company, in collaboration with cybersecurity experts, has worked tirelessly, making significant progress in re-establishing landside freight operations at its ports," DP World Australia said in a statement.

The latest updates suggest that DP World Australia has already made "significant progress" in bringing things back online. However, the port operator's main systems were still down as of this writing, though vessels can now load and unload containers at the terminal without issue.

"The cyber incident at DP World is serious and ongoing," tweeted Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil on X.

"DP World manages almost 40% of the goods flowing in and out of our country, and this incident is affecting the ports of Melbourne, Fremantle, Botany and Brisbane."

Australia's National Cyber Security Coordinator, Air Marshal Darren Goldie, also tweeted about the incident, stating that the Australian government is continuing to work with DP World Australia "to resolve a nationally significant cyber incident that has affected operations at a number of ports around the country."

"DP World today advised the Australian government that the timeframe for interruptions to continue is likely to be a number of days rather than weeks," Goldie added.

(Related: Back in August, there was a "big mess" at the Panama Canal as hundreds of ships got stuck in a drought-induced bottleneck, negatively impacting the supply chain.)

Australian officials confirm that cyberattack left DP World's IT systems "disconnected from the internet"

It was confirmed that the cyberattack left DP World's information technology (IT) systems completely offline, which significantly impacted the company's operations at ports in Australia's largest cities.

The only way to fully resume cargo operations as intended is to fix the issue, which the Australian government says it is working on with haste.

"We are continuing to develop our understanding of the flow on impacts to Australia's logistics system," Goldie further said.

"The National Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts and the Office of Supply Chain Resilience in the Department of Industry, Science and Resources will work with DP World to ensure that government and industry stakeholders have appropriate situational awareness necessary to support the management of any disruption to Australia's supply chains."

Ports Australia also issued a statement indicating that the cyberattack only disrupted DP World's terminals, and no others:

"Australia's ports and other terminals remain operational. We understand the importance of accurate reporting in maintaining public confidence and preventing unnecessary concern."

The cyberattack occurred just days after another that struck Chinese bank ICBC, which reportedly affected U.S. Treasury liquidity during a 30-year auction. There have also been other similar cyber breaches at other major world ports in recent years.

"Remember: This is the same Australian government that hunted down people walking alone on a beach with armed police for covid violations," one commenter wrote in response to the news.

"This will be but one more incident that's used to justify the growth of government," said another. "And the populace will nod in approval, not ever seeing the larger picture."

"I'm not sure where the next wave of pro-liberty peoples and ideas will emerge from but it ain't the Republican Party. Of that, I'm sure. Maybe from the rubble of failure? It's certainly happened in the past."

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