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The Maritime Cybersecurity Center (MCC) was created as a result of recommendations from the Southern New England Defense Industry Alliance (SENEDIA), along with other leaders in Rhode Island public and private sectors, as a dedicated resource focused on supporting the cybersecurity needs in Rhode Island, as well as extending value to the surrounding New England neighbors of Massachusetts and Connecticut.  These leaders called attention to the significant risk from willful threats to electronic connectivity and critical functionality, and identified the need for an independent, not-for-profit organization to focus on regional cybersecurity excellence and readiness, with a special emphasis extended to the maritime community.  Our independent, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status provides a foundation for excellence and commitment to growing cybersecurity knowledge, skills, and capabilities, and developing skilled personnel and growth opportunities for our region.

A Maritime Cybersecurity Center in Rhode Island is the foundation from which we will ACT: (1) build Awareness of the cybersecurity problem in our population, businesses, industries, and educational institutions; (2) build Communities of practice for increasing understanding and dissemination of information among these groups and related interests globally; and (3) develop and ready a knowledgeable cyber workforce through robust Training who can identify, avoid and solve cybersecurity problems, and provide a platform for continuous learning and defense in the field of cybersecurity.

Importance of Maritime Cybersecurity

Maritime cybersecurity is shaped by the physical, geographical, political, and demographic characteristics of our planet:

70% of the earth’s surface is water

80% of the people live on the coast or near the water

90% of trade is by water

95% of internet traffic is transmitted under water

Rhode Island has over 400 miles of coastline for a state slightly over 1200 square miles.  Neighboring states of Connecticut and Massachusetts contribute over 1,750 miles of additional coastline along the eastern seaboard.  This vast area of shoreline includes harbors, inland bays, seaports, recreational offerings, and beaches that are home to shipyards, container operations, Defense installations, marinas, private properties, and waterfront properties – both public and private.   Our surface and undersea arenas – both littoral and beyond – are very active with private, academic and commercial vessels and activities, offshore platforms, as well as a prominent local and Federal presence that includes the Coast Guard, Navy and Defense labs.  The maritime space includes the intermodal connections that make trade, recreation and commerce activities possible. 

As technology evolves, the maritime environment is becoming more dependent on technology that must be cyber resilient, relying on computer–based networking systems including terminal operations, industrial control, navigation and communication, business operations, and access control and monitoring. Cyber safety and security – especially of our maritime space – is vital to commerce, recreation, defense and overall security of the state, as well as the country. 

The pressing need exists to organize and arm ourselves with the collective knowledge and awareness to anticipate, detect and respond to cyber threats.  Collaboration, common understanding and awareness, and effective joint response are key to security, safety and smooth operations.