Cybersecurity in the Maritime Industry: 6 Top Roles in the Field

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

The need for cybersecurity professionals across almost all industries is on the rise. Learn more about some of the top roles you can pursue in cybersecurity in the maritime industry and what they do.

[Featured Image] A digital forensics examiner, one of many important cybersecurity in the maritime industry jobs, looks at a laptop while standing at a shipping port.

The maritime industry has become increasingly digitized and automated in recent years. While this offers many benefits, it also has the potential for an increased risk of cybersecurity attacks. In 2021, hackers launched an attack on the Port of Houston, which prompted a swift response from the US government. Several European oil ports became targets in 2022 [1].

Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field, and the need for jobs over the next few years is expected to grow at a much faster than average rate compared to other careers—32 percent faster than other occupations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [2]. If you've ever dreamed of working with the maritime industry and have a passion for IT, this could be an exciting career choice for you. 

Why is maritime cybersecurity important?

According to the United Nations, "Maritime transport is the backbone of global trade and the global economy," and it affects the lives of billions of people around the world [3]. Computers and technology play a massive role in running the maritime industry, which puts the entire industry at risk for cyberattacks. If a system is attacked, the global supply chain is at risk for disruption, which could cause significant economic damage. The New Jersey Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) estimates that as of 2021, "cybercrime targeting critical infrastructure costs the United States approximately $6 trillion [4]." 

In addition to worldwide economic damage, cyberattacks on the maritime industry can lead to other important problems, like environmental damage or exposure of humans to dangerous pollutants. Within the industry, cyberattacks can lead to the loss of life of crew members aboard ships. It can also disrupt humanitarian efforts to bring supplies to people in need.

What are the cyber risks in the maritime industry?

Ransomware is one common cyber risk in the maritime industry, and many shipping companies opt to pay so that they don't lose access to their data. According to the US Department of Transportation, hostile organizations from foreign countries also pose a threat. In 2023, it issued a warning that "proprietary foreign adversarial companies manufacture, install, and maintain port equipment that poses potential vulnerabilities to global maritime infrastructure IT and operational technology (OT) systems [5]."

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attacks are common within the maritime industry. This occurs when criminals use multiple IP addresses to flood a company's information system with traffic so it's no longer accessible.  Other common types of cyberattacks in the maritime industry include phishing, data modification, data theft, and social engineering. 

6 types of cybersecurity jobs in the maritime industry

The types of cybersecurity jobs available in the maritime industry are similar to those in other sectors, including penetration testers and systems analysts. These jobs typically come with a competitive salary and a positive job outlook. 

1. Penetration tester

A penetration tester essentially works on offense, testing websites, apps, and systems for vulnerabilities. For example, you might simulate a cyberattack to expose areas of weakness, generate a report about your findings, and make recommendations to prevent any future attacks. You might work directly for an organization, or you might work for a firm that services multiple organizations. 

US salary base pay range: $104,000 to $177,000 [6

Requirements: The requirements for becoming a penetration tester will vary from job to job, but you usually can start by gaining as many technical skills related to the job as possible. These might include learning JavaScript, Python, and C++. You can earn a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity or a related field and relevant certifications, like Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP). 

2. Cloud security specialist

As a cloud security specialist, you'll work to ensure that an organization's data storage system is safe and secure from cyberattacks. This might mean executing regular security audits and risk assessments, finding ways to improve security, and implementing plans. Any organization that relies on the cloud for data storage may hire someone to fill this role, and it's considered one of the highest-demand jobs in cybersecurity.   

US salary base pay range: $110,000 to $184,000 [7] 

Requirements: As with most cybersecurity jobs, your technical skills and knowledge are key to getting a job in cloud security. A background in programming and a strong knowledge of cloud technology are helpful. You'll need an understanding of languages like Python, Go, Bash, and Java. You also can earn one or more certifications that can help you improve your cloud security skills, and you may find a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field beneficial. 

3. Incident response engineer

An incident response engineer is a member of the incident response team, which means that when an organization deals with a cyberattack, you're responsible for responding to the threat, reducing any damage caused, and investigating what happened so the team can prevent a future attack. This job requires plenty of technical know-how in areas like forensic software, cloud computing, major operating systems, and system monitoring tools. 

US salary base pay range: $89,000 to $146,000 [8]

Requirements: Jobs in this area typically require a bachelor's degree in computer science or cybersecurity. Potential employers may also require certifications like Certified Incident Handler (GCIH). Incident responders should have excellent communication and problem-solving skills.  

4. Cybersecurity analyst 

As a cybersecurity analyst, you may take on various tasks, depending on where you work and that organization's unique needs. This can range from setting up firewalls, investigating security breaches, conducting risk assessments, and writing incident reports. Ultimately, your job is to protect that organization's computer networks from cyber threats and attacks.  

US salary base pay range: $83,000 to $134,00 [9]

Requirements: To become a cybersecurity analyst, you'll typically need a degree in cybersecurity, math, engineering, computer and information technology, or a related field. Earning industry certifications, such as CompTIA's Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+) credential, is also usually required for this type of job. More advanced roles as a cybersecurity analyst may require work experience in a related field. 

5. Ethical hacker

Ethical hackers, sometimes called white hat hackers, are professionals who purposely hack into an organization's website or network to expose vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. Like penetration testers, you'll use these simulated attacks to develop solutions for that organization to strengthen its cybersecurity system. You may have to write up a report or present your findings to stakeholders. 

US salary base pay range: $101,000 to $184,000 [10]

Requirements: Job requirements will vary from organization to organization, but many ethical hackers have an associate degree or bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. Related coursework, certifications, and an understanding of certain technical skills, like Python programming, Microsoft and Linux security, and network security, may also help you get a job. 

6. Digital forensics examiner

Digital forensics examiners are sort of like detectives, but instead of solving crimes out on the streets, you'll help solve cyber crimes. In this role, you'll gather information left behind by hackers who commit a cyberattack and analyze your findings. You may also do some ethical hacking to help better understand the actions of those who perform criminal activity. 

US salary base pay range: $116,000 to $195,000 [11]

Requirements: To work in digital forensics, you'll typically need a bachelor's degree in an area like cybersecurity, computer science, criminal justice, or computer forensics. Certifications and demonstration of human and technical skills may also be necessary for this role. A background in law enforcement can also be beneficial. 

How to gain the skills you need for cybersecurity in the maritime industry

You can gain the skills you need for a career in cybersecurity in the maritime industry through many options, including previous work experience, formal education, and bootcamps. Some people have a background in cybersecurity and transition to the maritime industry, but you also can transfer skills you've learned in other areas, ranging from customer service to education. 


You don't necessarily need a degree to work in cybersecurity. Still, in some cases, it may be helpful to earn an associate, bachelor's degree, or master's degree in cybersecurity or a related field, like computer science, math, information systems, or engineering. Otherwise, you may need a high school diploma with relevant experience and training.  

Work experience

Some employers prefer candidates with relevant work experience, which may come from fields other than tech. Many people come from industries like business administration, customer service, and hospitality. However, many others do have an IT background. Either way, be ready to showcase how your own unique experience has helped you develop important human skills needed for the career when you apply for a job.  


Many colleges and universities offer bootcamps to gain important cybersecurity skills, practice with hands-on experience, and grow your professional network. Compared to earning a degree, bootcamps are intensive accelerated programs that allow you to gain skills in a much shorter amount of time. 


Earning a certification can help you gain skills and start your cybersecurity career. Some employers even prefer job candidates with certain industry-recognized certifications. Some common options include the CompTIA PenTest+ certification, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification, the CompTIA Security+ certification, and the (ISC)² Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. 

Coursera and your cybersecurity career

Cybersecurity is a growing field, especially in the maritime industry. As a professional in this area, you can help protect the global supply chain and personnel from dangerous attacks on their systems.

On Coursera, you'll find numerous options to build the skills needed in a cybersecurity role. Consider courses like Foundations of Cybersecurity offered by Google, Introduction to Cybersecurity Foundations offered by Infosec, and Introduction to Cyber Attacks offered by the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. These courses cover topics like security frameworks, risk analysis, and cloud computing fundamentals.

Article sources


The American College of Greece. "How to tackle cybersecurity in maritime technology," Accessed March 6, 2024. 

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