An aerial view of the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.

Jan 06 2021

The Port of Los Angeles and IBM Team Up on Cybersecurity

IBM will help the port establish a Cyber Resilience Center to automate and manage security controls.

The Port of Los Angeles bills itself as the busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere, and it is moving to protect its cargo and shipping operations from cyberattacks via a recently formed partnership with IBM. In December, the company and the port announced a three-year, $68 million agreement to design and operate a Cyber Resilience Center (CRC) to defend the port’s supply chain from cybersecurity threats.

According to a statement from IBM and the port, the CRC will “serve as a maritime Security Intelligence and Operations Center to automate threat collaboration,” and will draw in stakeholders beyond those traditionally involved in maritime operations. Those include “telecommunications and cargo companies that support the port’s supply chain,” StateScoop reports.

The goal is to improve the quality, quantity and speed of threat intelligence sharing within the port’s third-party ecosystem.

“Stakeholders will have the opportunity to contribute threat data to the CRC as well as benefit from the more extensive and accumulated threat intelligence made available to them through it,” the statement notes.

The CRC will leverage several IBM technologies to automate and distribute threat intelligence among the Port of Los Angeles and port stakeholders.

“As our port increasingly relies on data integration to guide its cargo operations and processes, detection and protection against cyber incidents is critical,” said Gene Seroka, the port’s executive director, according to Container Management. “This new CRC will not only provide the port an early warning system against port-wide cyber attacks, but result in greater collective knowledge and data sharing throughout our entire port supply chain ecosystem.”

IBM Will Help Port Automate Cyber Intelligence

Currently, port and maritime entities operate individual threat sharing portals, and personnel at each of those locations must “manually input threat data into the platforms, thus creating the potential for compromise if threats aren’t shared or communicated in a timely, collective manner,” IBM and the port note.

The Port of Los Angeles and IBM view the CRC as an “automated ‘system of systems’ and focal point across all participating supply chain stakeholders” for cybersecurity threats to the port ecosystem. At the same time, individual stakeholders will still retain control over their own information and security protocols.

“Tenants and cargo handlers will be able to quickly share threat indicators with each other so they can better coordinate defensive responses as needed,” the statement notes. “The CRC will also serve as an information resource that stakeholders may use to help restore operations following an attack.”

The CRC will use IBM Cloud Pak for Security, X-Force Threat Intelligence and IBM Security’s SOAR (security orchestration, automation and response) solution to create “automated response playbooks” for security events and to foster collaboration.

The CRC will help the port and related stakeholders respond to threats across hybrid cloud environments faster, and IBM’s tools will connect openly to other vendors’ tools. Cloud Pak for Security “can automate threat intelligence ingestions from multiple sources, conduct threat analysis and make the anonymized data available to Port stakeholders through a single dashboard that informs their threat awareness and proposed defender actions,” IBM and the port note in their statement.

“The Cyber Resilience Center will provide a cutting-edge early warning system to further defend the Port and its stakeholders against cyber threats,” Seroka said in the statement. “This will result in greater collective knowledge, enhanced data sharing throughout our Port ecosystem, and will help to maintain the flow of critical cargo.”

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