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Shipboard Cyber Security – an interview with Mike McNally, Global Commercial Director, GTMaritime

Mike McNally, Global Commercial Director, GTMaritime

Mike McNally has more than 25 years’ experience working in the maritime industry both at sea and in senior maritime communications management positions. He began his career at sea, working on offshore tugs and commercial fishing vessels before becoming a deck officer on Getty product tankers. After coming ashore, he joined Globe Wireless, a major global maritime satellite service reseller. During two decades at the company, he oversaw an exponential growth in sales figures and was instrumental in introducing VSAT, Iridium and iFusion line of Fleet Broadband solutions into its range of services. Several years prior to Inmarsat taking over Globe Wireless, McNally was retained by Inmarsat in Switzerland to manage maritime distribution partners for its new Global Xpress service, ultimately becoming Vice President Sales for the Americas. He then joined Telemar USA as Managing Director overseeing its successful merger into Marlink, before joining GTMaritime as Global Commercial Director heading up all Sales and Marketing functions in 2018.


Mr McNally, please can you tell us what GTMaritime does?

Since 1998 GTMaritime has been providing a range of technology solutions and services to the maritime industry that serve to enable effective communications over satellite. 

GTMaritime looks after the interests of maritime companies by providing cyber secure solutions for email, data exchange and crew welfare communications.  We specialise in providing solutions and services that help ensure vessel compliance and business operability 365 days a year and ensuring crew can stay in touch with friends and family while at sea. All of this is backed up by a market leading infrastructure and unrivalled 24-hour customer support, every day of the year.

As customer requirements are constantly evolving, we are in continual development to serve our customers now and in the future. 

You mentioned cyber security, how is GTMaritime supporting compliance with the new IMO2021 regulations?

As companies review the IT systems on board their ships, they need to be able to determine those which enhance the cyber security of the ship or those that increase the threat profile.  With GTMaritime providing cyber secure solutions to over 7,000 vessels the customer can have confidence in our comprehensive range of solutions. 

The free Compliance Maintenance tool recently released provides assurance that all GTMaritime applications onboard can be maintained in line with the latest IMO revisions on cyber security without any cumbersome burden on the ship’s crew or the company IT department.  In addition to this, GTDeploy is available for customers who wish to automate the revision updates for all their administrative software packages. GTDeploy harnesses the power of our FastNet data transfer platform to optimise data streams between ship and shore and helps to minimise risk by allowing ship owners and operators to deploy software update patches easily and automatically to remote locations.

Can you explain why cyber security is so important for the shipping sector?

When operating a ship at sea safety is the paramount concern. Safe navigation, crew and operational safety, cargo protection and seaworthiness are all touched by cyber security as this can impact all the traditional areas of safety focus.

Where do you see the industry going in the future and how do you see cloud-based services evolving?

I find great truth in Yogi Berra’s well-known quote “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” but what is clear of the immediate future is that cyber security is a growing concern for ships, as they become better connected to the shore.  And connectivity will continue to improve, so that ships being “always on, always connected” will become more ubiquitous.  But what will not change is that ships are physically alone in the harshest operating environment on earth.  If you need to count on a connection you better have more than one, and it better not have common points of failure.  A prudent ship operator will ensure that any critical systems for vessel operations and safety can operate beyond any foreseeable failures.  Furthermore, secure and efficient data exchange is at the heart of maritime digitalisation so GTMaritime will continue to develop in this area in the future. 

What’s on the cards for GTMaritime this year?

Managing unprecedented growth while continuing to enhance our support and development performance. We have just exceeded 7,000 vessels using our solutions, but our most important metric is customer satisfaction.

If you could give our readers one piece of advice, what would it be?

In the past there has been a lot of hype about shipboard cyber security. And in fact, looking to the past, the number of shipboard incidences have been quite low compared to shore-based attacks.  As every mariner knows, the threats to watch for are ahead of us. The changes to our industry point to the shipboard threat becoming more real. So be ready.