Published on: November 16, 2023
One of Australia’s biggest port operators, DP World Australia, restarted work at all facilities this week after a cybersecurity attack forced it to shut down and pause all operations for three days.
The cyberattack led to a huge backup of cargo as DP World Australia, which is owned by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World — it manages the flow of nearly 40% of the country’s goods. The cybersecurity incident affected all of its four ports in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Fremantle.
“Operations resumed at the company’s ports across Australia at 9 a.m. today (2200 GMT, Sunday) … following successful tests of key systems overnight,” the company said in a statement, noting that resuming operations “does not mean that this incident has concluded.”
The statement added that they’d move about 5,000 out of its four terminals across the country. According to the Australian Financial Review, that’s just under 17% of DP World Australia’s overall affected load, which counts about 30,000 shipping containers.
The company may face “some necessary, temporary disruptions” to port services as they’re making efforts to further protect their system and help with investigations into the incident. DP World Australia explained the investigations will likely take “some time.”
Nicolaj Noes, the executive vice president of DP World’s Oceania, said the company has cyber insurance, and that it wasn’t asked to pay ransom.
Details on the nature of the attack are still unclear. The company reported on Friday that it detected “unauthorized activity in its system,” after which it shut down access to the system and disconnected from the internet. This meant that the data exchange between trucks and the stevedore was disabled, and as a result, trucks were unable to enter DP World’s terminals to either collect or deposit containers.
During the weekend, the docks saw a significant buildup of containers, occupying around 90% of the available storage space at the stevedore’s facility.
“For some, it’s not a big deal because some furniture was supposed to go into stores anyway. But it could also have been a critical spare part missing to keep a factory running or for someone to start up their operation on a Monday,” explained Noes.
Australian Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil on Sunday called the incident “a reminder of the serious risk that cyber attacks pose to our country, and to the vital infrastructure we all rely on.”
The incident puts DP World Australia on a growing list of terminal operators and ports that have been on the receiving end of a cyberattack. The list includes Japan’s Nagoya port which stopped work for 2 days earlier this year due to a cyberattack and a couple of Dutch ports that were hit by hackers.