Close attention must be placed on cyber security and cyber risk

By Jorge Durán*

In my personal opinion, 2022 will be a year in which, because of a high degree of uncertainty, port managers should focus on improving operations through technological modernisation. In that ample sphere, we can include both hard and soft infrastructure.

The hard part refers to physical machinery or improvements and may include areas such as operations, security and/or sustainability.  The soft part refers to the software or programming necessary to digitalize processes, but importantly also the so-called change-management, including the modernisation of business processes.

In this context, it is important to note that digitalizing operations does not mean scanning and uploading forms to the Internet but, rather, a redesign of the processes themselves and a coherent unified technological platform.

While the pandemic certainly accelerated efforts in these areas, especially in the digitalization of processes to avoid human interaction, the truth is that port authorities throughout the hemisphere were already embarking on modernisation initiatives. This, however, is compounded by the diversity of requirements organizations such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have published in favour of more efficient logistics. The Trade Facilitation Agreement calls for a Maritime Single Window (MSW) as part of the infrastructure required for trade. It is important to note the distinctions between improved operations due to software incorporations … for example a Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) tool or more ambitious projects such as MSW, a Port Management System and even Port Community Systems (PCS).

Cyber risks

As we move towards digitalization initiatives, close attention must be placed on cyber security and cyber risk. Managers across the region must be made aware of the invaluable and essential need to include cyber security at the start of any such initiative.

Digitalization in ports goes beyond an IT project. It is a business modernisation effort that requires change-management. Equally, cyber security is an issue that demands careful attention from leadership. And it must be accompanied by the creation of a cyber resilient culture on all organizational levels. In this regard, CIP Strategic Partner, the International Association of Ports and Harbor (IAPH) has published the Cybersecurity Guidelines for Ports and Port Facilities1.

We have ample evidence that sustainable ports are competitive ports. In that sense, areas of relevance for 2022 and beyond should be sustainable port operations and environmental protection. In this regard the CIP-published Guide to Environmental Certification and Sustainability Reporting for Ports of the Americas (or the Green Guide2) provides a blueprint for ports to generate sustainability reports and move towards sustainable operations and even certification.

We all await the return of the cruise industry to a semblance of normality. While the pandemic did bring the cruise industry to a halt, it also provided an opportunity for cruise lines, terminals, and port authorities to assess safety measures and to update them where necessary. Many have identified improved requirements which will certainly be implemented successfully and with a deeper understanding of potential health hazards.

The CIP has gathered some of the existing international guidelines on the return of the cruise industry.  We have seen that the cruise line industry has made significant advances in getting passengers back onto the ships.  And, as you know, a significant increase is expected for the beginning of 2022.

Finally, with the return to on-site events, I use this opportunity to encourage all port managers in the region to attend the CIP’s on-site Hemispheric Conferences in 2022, on topic including Port Legislation (in Uruguay), Sustainable Operations (Mexico), Waterways and in-land Ports (Uruguay), Port Security and Protection (U.S.A) and Port-City Relationship and Gender Equality (Peru). English-Spanish translation is available at all these on-site conferences. I hope to see you all in 2022 as we continue the process of knowledge sharing and empowerment through training. []

  • First Published: December 02, 2021



1 – IAPH-Cybersecurity-Guidelines-version-1_0.pdf  (

2 – The Guide to Environmental Certification and Sustainability Reporting for Ports of the Americas is a reference tool offered by the Inter-American Committee on Ports to ports and terminals in the Americas to highlight the importance of environmental protection in their business setting. It provides general information for establishing a plan of action and make a commitment to continual improvement based on the planning and structure suggested in the Guide.

Jorge Duran

 *Jorge Durán has been Chief of Secretariat of the Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP) since 2013. The views and advice expressed here are his personal opinions and do not necessarily represent an official position of the CIP.