Onshore IT support, using remote log-in to access the yacht’s most critical and vulnerable systems, is now standard procedure. Even the biggest vessels with ETOs and IT officers rely on remote access from onshore support to manage A/V, communications, computer network, and cyber security systems. Remote support can provide many benefits far beyond the cost savings of maintaining additional crew for IT support.
However, few vessels appear to give much thought to security and accountability in these arrangements. In regards to security, without proper precautions, unauthorized individuals or organizations could hack into a yacht’s systems and lift valuable data -- or even record the browsing history of the owner and their guests. Being hacked and spied upon is unfortunately a real threat that all yachts should take seriously and ensure the right protections are in place. As for accountability, vessels under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that charges hourly may end up spending much more than planned if the connection is slow and no one is monitoring how long a technician is connected.
As a remote IT support provider, Great Circle Systems addresses both of these issues when a remote support relationship is established. All GCS support technicians are licensed and fully certified, and sign a non-disclosure agreement before contacting any vessel under our care. Employees are subject to rigorous background checks as part of their employment contract, before ever being allowed to access a client’s onboard network.
As for the remote connection itself, GCS utilizes a secure, encrypted VPN tunnel with redundant paths to the vessel through any of the vessel WAN device available to us, so VSAT, Iridium, Shore WiFi, Cell etc. are all utilized depending on location and most effective cost availability.
GCS employs an array of tools and services to accomplish these tasks, and we work closely with Ships Staff to establish a protocol for connection. The GCS technician and onboard staff identify any ‘off limit’ areas ahead of time, such as specific computers or protocols, and tag them as such to prevent unauthored access to sensitive areas.
The second security issue relates to the logged activity as previously noted. Without a reliable means of recording activity, yachts have no way of knowing which service technician was connected, for how long, and the activity they were engaged in.
GCS logs all remote network access sessions and captures duration of connection, the techician’s identity, which systems and equipment were accessed, and then the tasks performed. Other onshore support companies may offer similar levels of accountability and security through installation of additional expensive third party software or hardware, but GCS includes it as part of the flat rate for the IT support.
GCS avoids penalizing yachts with slow Internet connections by charging a flat rate for IT support. This means the supporting company assumes the risk of slow connectivity and payment is based on performance, not hours logged.
GCS Remote IT support provides the Captain and IT officers the ability to monitor who is doing what – whether through remote access or vendors performing onboard repairs and support on the core systems.
With the unique attention given to secure access and accountability, and the monitoring ability demanded by security and cost-conscious captains and owners, the GCS Remote IT Support Service Level Agreement is an appealing solution for every superyacht.
Click the button below to learn more about the features and protections of a GCS SLA that meets your needs.
You can also book an appointment with Scott Strand at the Monaco Yacht Show, 27 - 30 September 2017 to discuss your remote IT support needs and budget. Schedule a meeting with GCS here MYS meeting scheduler