Insider Risk in the Shipping Industry


The shipping industry serves as the backbone of international trade, responsible for transporting over 90% of the world’s goods. Despite its critical role, the industry is plagued by an array of insider risks including corruption, cybercrime, and workplace violence. The gargantuan seizure of more than 8,000 kilos of cocaine at the Rotterdam port in August 2023, amounting to €600 million, provides a glimpse into the scale of the problem. Europol points to insider involvement across the supply chain as a significant enabler of such criminal infiltration.

Key Facts

  • Globally, only 10% of containers originating from South America and 2% of all containers are inspected.

  • Informants can earn up to 15% of an illicit load's value.

  • In 2021, the total value of seized cocaine at Rotterdam’s port reached €3.5 billion, with 452 drug extractors arrested.

  • Cyber threats in maritime industry are deemed 'very high' by the Danish Royal Centre for Cyber Security.

The Challenges: Corruption, Cybercrime, and More

The intricacies of the shipping industry’s supply chain create a fertile ground for criminal organisations. Corruption is rampant, involving a wide range of individuals from shipping companies to custom officers. Current prevalent methods include PIN code fraud which involves misappropriation of container reference codes.

Moreover, with the rise of digitalisation, the industry is increasingly susceptible to cybercrime and espionage. Employee awareness and training on cybersecurity have become imperative.

Lastly, the industry is not immune to traditional risks such as workplace violence and bullying, further complicating the insider threat landscape.

Insider risk in the shipping industry

The Impact of Insider Risk in the Shipping Industry

Economic Costs: A Ripple Effect

The seizure of €600 million worth of cocaine in Rotterdam is just the tip of the iceberg. These illicit activities raise trade costs and inflate insurance premiums. Moreover, additional security measures entail further financial burdens on shipping companies. The ripple effect impacts global markets, destabilising economies.

Reputational Costs: Beyond Monetary Loss

Insider risks tarnish company reputations, erode investor confidence, and compromise future business deals. The repercussions extend to stock prices, possibly leading to a financial downturn for the companies involved.

Human Costs: More Than Just Numbers

The human impact is significant. Stress-induced work environments escalate workplace violence and bullying, affecting employee well-being. Stressors make workers susceptible to the allure of financial gains from illicit activities.

Talent Drain: A Vicious Cycle

A hostile work environment results in talent loss, forcing the remaining staff to bear increased workloads. This, in turn, renders them even more susceptible to insider risks, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

Societal Costs: The Big Picture

Insider risks in the shipping industry have broader ramifications. They fuel societal issues like drug addiction, violence, and national instability, making this not just an industry-specific problem, but a global issue.

The Solution: Signpost Six

Addressing insider risk requires a comprehensive, tailored approach. Signpost Six offers specialised insider risk management services and insider risk awareness trainings designed to assist entities in navigating this complex landscape.

Our services are designed to identify and mitigate existing risks, but also to foster a resilient organisational culture that minimises future insider threats. While we can’t divulge all our strategies here, we assure you that our approach is holistic, data-driven, and customised to each organisation’s unique needs.

Insider risk in the shipping industry


The shipping industry is grappling with insider risks that go beyond mere financial losses. They impact human lives, jeopardise future growth, and have broader societal implications. With complexities abounding, understanding these impacts is the first step toward crafting effective mitigation strategies.

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Whether you want to start your own Insider Risk Programme or build awareness amongst your employees. Get in touch with us to today!

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