Why maritime cyber-security?

Kimberly Tam (University of Plymouth)

March 28th, 2023 | 17:00
Aula Alte Technik
Rechbauerstraße 12, 8010 Graz
Talk is held in English.


As a Tier1 National UK threat, a maritime cyber-attack can cost sompanies millions of pounds. As the world depends on maritime operations, we at the University of Plymouth have been researching maritime cyber-threats as few organisations have the capability, connections and facilities to do so. This talk is a high-level view of why maritime cyber-security is important, including results from an EU H2020 project called Cyber-MAR looking at raising awareness and providing training to address these threats.


Kimberly Tam is currently a lecturer in cybersecurity at the University of Plymouth. She is researching maritime cybersecusity around ship IT/OT/IoT security, port security, autonomous vessels, and offshore structures (e.g. renewable energy).

Kimberly Tam

Why did you decide to become a computer scientist?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to become. So I choose something that I thought would give me a lot of options. Computer science/engineering seemed like the best option, and it has worked well for me. It has allowed me to try many different things while still doing computer science.

Tell us about your beginnings in Science/Computer Science.
By many people’s standards I started late. I didn’t really have programming classes as a child, it wasn’t until I went to university for my undergraduate that I got to start doing programming and engineering. It was a steep learning curve, but rewarding when I achieved something.

What do you think are the most important skills for a computer scientist?
Good problem solving skills. You will likely be solving a lot of problems with your computer scientist skills. And fixing a lot of the problems you make for yourself (e.g., debugging code )

Do you have any tips for young women who are currently studying computer science or are planning to study computer science in the future?
It is difficult to give general to advice. Yes we may all be women/girls, but we will all have our own path. But in general, do things that excite you or make you feel like you are doing something positive. And ignore the haters.

What motivates and inspires you to work in research? Do you have any tips for young women who are also considering going into research?
I mentioned before that I think good computer scientists need good problem solving skills. Similar to that, what motivates me is how many interesting and relevant problems there are waiting to be solved. Same advice as earlier, do something that you are motivated to do. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box even though people may try to stuff you back in.

What excites you about being a computer scientist?
The possibilities excite me. We are making software to detect cancer early, take robots to the moon, make art, and more. That’s cool. It is also terrifying, which is why I like the cyber-security aspect too.

How do you see your role as a scientist?
I like facts. Science is good for me in that way. I try to fix things, find facts, and make those findings accessible to others, especially those who need it.

What’s it like to be a woman in computer science?
I’m not sure how to answer this either. Are there negatives, sure, and I think we are all familiar with those issues. But one good thing is at a conference I never have to wait in line for the bathroom/toilets. I don’t know a good way to quantify the good and the bad, so I don’t know how to compare them. It is both fun and frustrating, but it could be like that for everyone.

What is it like for you as a woman in engineering, do you face certain challenges?
Similar to the above. I have met my fair share of doubters and downers. But I am also stronger because of it. There are probably better ways to achieve the same strength with less conflict, but the challenges I faced are a part of my journey and made me who I am.

What is it like for you to work in a male-dominated field?
I try not to think about it in that way. I mostly think about the field itself, and don’t really think about the other players on the field unless we need to interact. I haven’t experienced anything different, so “it is what it is”. Sorry not a great answer

Why is maritime cyber security so important, even for a landlocked country like Austria?
90% of global trade is done by sea. Materials a country needs often get brought here by sea, and exports will likely to go places as well.

Can you tell us something about your current/future projects?
Most of my major research projects etc can be found on our research page: www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/maritime-cyber-threats-research-group , but I’m really excited in all the cyber-security projects related to ships, ports, offshore renewable energy platforms, and autonomous vessels.

Speakers Dinner

"My two colleagues and I were invited to meet Kimberly Tam for lunch and introduced her to classic Styrian dishes. Because of her inviting personality, the conversation quickly thrived. We asked all sorts of personal and professional questions, especially what we wanted our futures to look like and what it meant to work in such a male-dominated field as an ambitious woman. We also discussed different fields of Computer Science. Kimberly gave us lots of honest insight into her professional plans, how to navigate academic life and how to convince others to perceive you as hardworking as you are.
After this, she gave a very fascinating talk about the power that cybersecurity has in the maritime sector. With her charismatic demeanor, she certainly convinced her listeners of what disastrous consequences a cyber-attack in this sector can have for the global economy.
I appreciate the kind words Kimberly had for each of us, because this will for sure shape our future in Computer Science. Thank you for the motivational experience, I am very grateful for this wonderful opportunity!"
- Anna Lechner

Supported by
Büro für Gleichstellung und Frauenförderung
Digital University Hub

Anika Kalcher
CSBME - Markting, PR
Graz University of Technology

Email: marketing.csbme@tugraz.at
Phone: ++ 43 873 4055


Marlene Goritschan
CSBME - Markting, PR
Graz University of Technology

Email: marketing.csbme@tugraz.at
Phone: ++ 43 873 4053

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