Port of Vancouver USA Launches Cybersecurity Information Sharing Group

Image via Maritime Transportation System Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

To address cybersecurity issues among ports located along the Lower Columbia River, the Port of Vancouver USA and the Maritime Transportation System Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MTS-ISAC) in May revealed the launch of what’s being called the Lower Columbia River Maritime Information Exchange, or LCR-MIX.

The primary mission of the LCR-MIX is to enhance communication and collaboration on cyber-threat activity among regional stakeholders and to provide early situational awareness and best practices to prevent incidents.

According to the U.S Coast Guard, there were more than 500 major operational cyber-attacks that occurred in the marine industry in 2020, directly affecting the 25,000 miles of navigable channels in the U.S. Recognizing the severity of the issue and that cargo activities at U.S. seaports account for 26% of the U.S. economy, the MTS-ISAC was formed to combat the rising threat from these bad actors.

“So often the partners and stakeholders within the Lower Columbia River are using the same vendors, service providers and often are working with the same business contacts,” said Chris Carter, an information security analyst for the Port of Vancouver USA. “A compromise can have cascading consequences and put the entire supply chain at risk. By partnering with the MTS-ISAC, LCR-MIX members are actively consuming and producing actionable cyber-threat intelligence, sourced locally and from other MTS stakeholders from around the globe.”

According to the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA), the Columbia Snake River System is responsible for transporting more than 50 million tons of cargo annually.

The MTS-ISAC, a nonprofit formed in February 2020, has seen rapid adoption of its Cybersecurity Information Sharing Services. The LCR-MIX is the sixth cybersecurity information exchange of eight to launch since the inception of this program in early 2021.

“We are thrilled to be working with the LCR-MIX. Often, our peers think public information sharing is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Christy Coffey, vice president of operations for MTS-ISAC. “Under thoughtful leadership provided by Port of Vancouver USA, this sixth information exchange has rapidly come together and is already increasing early situational awareness amongst its members and making our entire MTS-ISAC community stronger. We are grateful for this partnership.”

“The MTS-ISAC provides us with actionable intelligence in a timely manner,” Port of Grays Harbor Information Technology Director Christopher Hunt added. “Their focus on privacy encourages the open exchange of information and the regional scope of the LCR-MIX means that the information is relevant in our daily operations.”