It's on us. Share your news here.

Cybersecurity initiative a “wake up call” for US ports

(Top: L to R) Stas Margaronis – AJOT, George Lauriat – AJOT, (Bottom) Gene Seroka – Port of Los Angeles Executive Director

Posted on March 20, 2024

American Journal of Transportation’s California-based port correspondent Stas Margaronis in a recent video interview with the Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Eugene “Gene” Seroka addressed the cyber security challenges to US ports and specifically to the Port of Los Angeles.


In February, President Biden announced a major cybersecurity initiative, somewhat to the surprise of some maritime stakeholders. I was wondering whether you could give us your feedback about what kind of problems the administration saw in moving this initiative so quickly and in discussing a $20 billion price tag associated with it.


I think, number one, it’s a wake-up call for all of us in the port to supply chain industry. Here at the Port of Los Angeles, we opened up the nation’s first cybersecurity operations center back in September of 2014, aided in part by a grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security. Last year, this cybersecurity operations center, or CSOC, as we call it, stopped nearly three quarters of a billion intrusion attempts, an average of about 63 million intrusion attempts per month that we stopped.

Now, the work in this area also led us to create one of the world’s first cyber-resilience centers and think of that as an early warning system. It allowed us to bring about two dozen private sector partners in, including our dock workers with the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU), along with marine clerks, board members, and others, to help work together with the private sector to stop intrusions in their spaces. And so far, co-created with IBM, the cyber-resilience center has stopped a half a dozen attacks on the private sector interests that they were unaware were targeting them.

So, this work needs to be replicated across ports throughout the nation. And what we’re seeing so far from our CSOC and from the CRC is we see the IP addresses; we see chatter on social media. We can even get into the dark web and see if there’s anything sinister happening there. We’ve got to stay steps ahead of the bad guys and replicating or creating systems in our port network across the country is the number one goal here. We’ve been talking to the administration about this for a number of years now, and it was great to see that their interest is piqued, and in addition, trying to bring more manufacturing jobs here to the United States in the areas of cargo-handling equipment and the large gantry or shoreside cranes that we employ at our ports across the nation.


One of the issues that got raised was the matter of the 200 CPSC cranes built by the Chinese manufacturer based in Shanghai. As you’re aware, there have been criticisms for several years that container cranes from China posed a hacking threat to our port operations.


It's on us. Share your news here.
Submit Your News Today

Join Our
Click to Subscribe