Transportation Systems Sector: Maritime

The Maritime System sub-sector is a network of operations that interface with shore side intermodal connections as part of global supply chains and domestic commercial activities.

The Maritime System sub-sector is a complex system of vessels, port facilities, waterways, and waterway infrastructure. The sub-sector is dependent on critical infrastructure such as railroads, bridges, tunnels, highways, as well as interconnected physical, cyber, and human assets to facilitate economic growth.

The Maritime System sub-sector in New Jersey includes two major east coast ports—the Port of New York and New Jersey and the Port of Philadelphia, both of which have assets in neighboring states. Additionally, the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Hudson County and three ferry service companies are part of the maritime system. Two ferry service companies transport passengers to and from New York City, while the third transports passengers and vehicles between Cape May and Lewes, Delaware.


Cyber: Moderate
State and non-state cyber actors likely view the Maritime System sub-sector as an attractive target to impose substantial economic and logistical strain on the United States, as well as potentially life-threatening physical damages. Additionally, illicit trafficking organizations have sought to compromise port networks to facilitate their operations. In 2013, drug traffickers hired hackers to penetrate the port of Antwerp, Belgium, and manipulate the movement of containers. Maritime operations are susceptible to the exploitation of vulnerabilities in industrial control systems as well as more common, low-level tactics like distributed denial-of-service and social engineering.

Terrorism: Low
There has not been a terrorist attack against the Maritime System sub-sector in 10 years, but it has continued to be a target of interest for foreign terrorist organizations due to its vital role in the US economy. Internationally, terrorists have reportedly used cruise ships to travel undetected overseas.

Natural Hazards
The areas surrounding port facilities in New Jersey are densely populated with critical infrastructure such as chemical and energy facilities. Hazardous materials are shipped to and from ports via barge, intermodal via freight, and are vulnerable to incidents that may occur during transport or while stored.


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates and maintains facilities to include the Port of New York and New Jersey. Keeping the Region Moving is an infrastructure protection strategy that strengthens the economic competitiveness of the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region.

Sector Delaware Bay, which the US Coast Guard operates, responds to incidents in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware and includes the ports of Philadelphia and Wilmington. The US Coast Guard Area Maritime Security Committee Delaware Bay meets regularly with industry partners.

In June 2015, the US Coast Guard released its cybersecurity plan, outlining enhancements to cyber capabilities and coordination with industry partners. This long-term strategy identifies three strategic priorities:

  • Defending cyberspace
  • Enabling operations
  • Protecting infrastructure

Under the direction of the National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office, the Maritime Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative developed training to assist maritime personnel with recognizing suspicious behaviors, understanding how and where to report suspicious activity, and protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties when documenting information.

Intelligence Gaps

  • How are terrorists planning to conduct an attack on New Jersey’s ports or ferry systems?

  • How are terrorists utilizing ports to transport contraband?

  • What systems or devices used by the Maritime System sub-sector are most vulnerable to cyber threats?

  • What methods are cyber actors using to target the Maritime System sub-sector? What is their intent?

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at