HMM Reports Cyber Attack on its Global Email System

HMM cyber attack impacts email servers
HMM Jakarta became the 15 extra loader HMM is operating in the past year to the US (HMM)

Published Jun 15, 2021 12:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

The shipping industry continues to be the target of cybercriminals, with South Korea’s HMM becoming the latest major carrier to report an attack on its systems. HMM, however, reports that it has so far been able to limit the scope of the attack to its email servers.

The unidentified security breach was detected on June 12, HMM said in its announcement, and it led to limited access to the carrier’s email outlook system in certain areas. They are reporting that on the fourth day after the virus was discovered that the email system is gradually resuming. HMM is also emphasizing that no information or data leak has been found.

“Except for email, the other system networks and functions are fully operational as usual, attributed to the independent cloud-based system,” reported HMM. “In this context, our e-business platforms, including booking and documentation functionality, are properly running without disruptions.”

In the carrier’s update to customers and agents on June 15, it said that its email servers, except for America and Europe, “remain impacted. In case of customers’ inquiries not processed via email, our local agency can be contacted with other alternative options such as phone calls.” HMM is also encouraging shippers to wire its home office if they are having problems making contact with agents.

“Our IT planning team, consisting of IT experts, is continuing the investigation to prevent further security accidents,” HMM said reassuring customers that it will conduct enhanced security checks and take protective measures.

HMM joins other major carriers in becoming the target of cybercriminals. Last year, CMA CGM was struck by an invasive ransomware attack that took the company’s systems down, disrupting bookings and other systems. It took the French carrier more than a week to recover, with some parts of its systems remaining down for additional days. At the same time, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) also suffered an attack that took some of its meeting capabilities offline.

The attack comes at a challenging time for the carrier, which is working to address continuing demand for additional capacity, especially on routes to the United States. HMM announced that it was adding its twenty-sixth extra loader since the beginning of the surge in volumes and that it expects to operate four temporary vessels this month to provide extra capacity. 

The 7,000TEU container ship HMM Jakarta departed from Busan on June 13 bound for Long Beach and Tacoma. It is the 15 extra loader run to the West Coast since August 2020. HMM said that capacity constraints remain in the market and “HMM is currently in a situation where it is almost impossible to secure additional container ships in the charter market.” The company reports to address the shortages vessels operating on other routes have also been used as temporary ships to add capacity.