Coordinating Estonia’s maritime cybersecurity capabilities

Shipping companies, ports and vessels are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks, which manifest in a number of ways. Estonia has one of the highest levels in IT innovation as well as the experience to tackle cybersecurity issues; moreover, its population is highly familiarised with digitalisation. The EU-funded MariCybERA project aims to coordinate Estonia’s digital capabilities in a focussed and integrated way. The project is advanced by the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), which belongs to an Estonian ecosystem of cybersecurity and maritime institutions. The university will recruit a researcher and research coordinator for the position of ERA Chair holder, who will lead a new multidisciplinary Centre for Maritime Cybersecurity based at the University, and a research administrator manager.


The European and international maritime industries face serious threats from cybercriminals. Shipping companies and ports have begun falling prey to computer viruses (AP Moller-Maersk in August 2017, COSCO Shipping Lines in July 2018, the ports of Barcelona and San Diego in September 2018, etc.) IT hackers are colluding with drug traffickers to import illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin (Port of Amsterdam, 2011-2013), and shipping vessels have become vulnerable to GPS jamming and spoofing attacks (Black Sea in June 2017, Mediterranean Sea in August 2019). Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) is part of an Estonian ecosystem of cyber security and maritime actors – NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, several Estonian maritime associations, research institutes and private companies – with the collective know-how to tackle maritime cyber security threats. Estonia has first-hand experience of state-sponsored cyber warfare (April 2007) and is renowned for its IT innovation (Skype, 2003), e-governance (e-Voting since 2005), e-residency (2014), and cyber savvy population (95% of income tax returns filed online). To unite Estonia’s capabilities in a focused and integrated manner, TalTech will recruit an outstanding researcher and research coordinator to be the ERA Chair Holder (together with a team of experienced researchers) who will head a new, multidisciplinary Centre for Maritime Cyber Security at TalTech. Plus, a Research Administration Manager will be recruited to support TalTech’s Research Administration Office. Reflecting important structural change, the Centre for Maritime Cyber Security will be created by integrating research capabilities from TalTech’s Estonian Maritime Academy and TalTech’s Centre for Digital Forensics and Cyber Security. The ERA Chair Holder will foster research excellence in three research sub-topics: Marine Communication, Human Aspects of Cyber Security, and Cyber Security Aspects of Maritime Technology.