ARES Security Powers Maritime Accreditation Program
November 3, 2022
News & Articles

This the first post in our series on how ARES Security designs and secures a safer future in real-time for the maritime industry.

In the first accreditation program of its kind in the maritime industry, the National Maritime Law Enforcement Academy (NMLEA) selected ARES Security as a preferred provider of software solutions to power their Maritime Security Accreditation and Digitization Program (MARSEC ADaPt). As a preferred software provider, ARES Security’s AVERT suite of software solutions is a core component of the accreditation initiative. AVERT is utilized to digitalize maritime critical infrastructure using Digital Twins and offering software utilizing digital data to continuously optimize security, risk management, vulnerability analysis, and security training functions.

What is MARSEC ADaPT?

NMLEA has been working with the public and private sectors since 2017 to discuss how to best work together to solve the challenges facing the maritime industry. These challenges include an ever-evolving physical and cyber threat landscape, chronic labor shortages, and climate change.
After years of working together to find the best solutions to these challenges, NMLEA publicly launched the Maritime Security Accreditation and Digitization Program (MARSEC ADaPt) in April 2022. The program introduces asset digitalization capabilities to standardize and streamline maritime security vulnerability assessments, training, exercises, and cybersecurity and delivers material benefits across the entire maritime industry through the establishment of a baseline, pre-requisite standard.
The program’s goal is to take the nation’s port security community into the digital age, by facilitating steps that can effortlessly, effectively, and efficiently enable that transformation, with clearly defined cost-savings and operational benefits, while establishing a National Standard for Maritime Security.
The program’s mission is to establish a Maritime Security Accreditation and Digitization Program for United States Ports, hosted by the National Maritime Law Enforcement Academy and powered by “best in class” security software, in partnership with the maritime domain’s leading organizations – and one that is recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, and establishes/demonstrates that accreditees have met a prerequisite standard for Maritime Security Vulnerability Assessments, Training, Exercises, and Cybersecurity Maturity.

The objectives of the program are to:

  1. Create a Digital Twin for every U.S. Port.

  2. Provide the U.S. Coast Guard a National Digital Library of maritime critical infrastructure.

  3. Decrease the costs to ports for Vulnerability Assessments and provide continuous improvement through a 24/7/365 active “machine learning” tool – integrated with a port’s “Digital Twin.”

  4. Ensure that the tools are validated and recognized by agencies like DOD, DOE, and DHS.

  5. Decrease the costs of training and exercises, through industry-recognized software – integrated with a port’s “Digital Twin,” and allowing for accessible, affordable, adaptable, and accredited readiness and preparedness.

  6. Provide a cybersecurity evaluation and measurement of maturity tool that is easy to implement, affordable, and allows port entities, their managers, and their leadership an easily and readily available “living” dashboard with quick access to improvement recommendations.

  7. Provide access to regionally positioned port security specialists, and subject matter experts, so that “on the ground” knowledge, expertise, and experience can be provided quickly and easily.

  8. Be able to share, collect and analyze cyber threat data on a national level, that can improve the security of each port.

  9. Be able to demonstrate to participants in this program, first-year return on investment, and long-term, sustainable benefits.

  10. Set the National Standards in each aspect of a port's DOMAIN for Maritime Security, and recognize those that meet them through Accreditation.

The Accreditation Process
To become accredited by the NMLEA, ports are evaluated and assessed against the following “DOMAIN” elements:

  • Digitization: Does the port have a Digital Twin? How is that being used?

  • Optimization: Is the port able to conduct ongoing vulnerability assessments using machine learning technology utilized and recognized by the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and the Department of Homeland Security?

  • Maturity: Is the port able to thoroughly assess the maturity of its cybersecurity, adhere to established best practices, conduct holistic risk assessments both in-person and virtual, and foster capability growth and resilience over time?

  • Academic Advancement: Does the port have training tools in place to advance its workforce? Are continuing education opportunities available, promoted, and linked to an accredited institution?

  • Interconnectivity/Intelligence/Information Sharing: Who is the port connected with and how and what kind of intelligence is being shared amongst federal, state, and local entities?

  • Navigation: What are the procedures and processes for how the port responds to incidents and events? How resilient are these processes?

The Role of AVERT​
The Maritime Security Accreditation and Digitization program has seven elements:

  1. A Digital Twin

  2. A Digital Twin Library

  3. Vulnerability Assessment Software

  4. Virtual Exercise Software

  5. Training Software & Learning Management System

  6. Cybersecurity Maturity Model Software

  7. Deployed Port Security Subject Matter Experts Throughout the Country

AVERT will be utilized for the first four program elements, providing organizations with a “Digital Twin” of their port and facilities, supporting a digital twin library, providing vulnerability assessments, and virtual training exercises. More specifically:

  • Digital Twin: The AVERT software creates a digital 3-D representation of a port and facility and is used to visualize, design, build, test, manage, and secure maritime critical infrastructure. The ARES Digital Twin then creates substantial and sustainable business value by facilitating safe, secure, and efficient security lifecycle operations through digital innovation and automation. The digital twin also provides ports with critical components that directly impact preparedness, readiness, responsiveness, and resiliency. The technology can also be used as a vulnerability assessment tool, exercise tool, and training tool.

  • Virtual Assessment: AVERT Security Design and Assessment Solutions provide unique modeling and simulation software that visualizes and quantifies the performance of security and response configurations. The results provide clients with a detailed understanding of their comprehensive security and response configuration's effectiveness.

  • Virtual Exercise: AVERT Virtual Tabletop Physical Security software runs simulations on the various threats that impact organizations. Virtual Tabletop enables executives to discover weaknesses and vulnerabilities and host training exercises within those specific simulations. With the capability to simulate anything from terrorists and cyber-attacks to natural disasters, the Virtual Tabletop will have direct impact on a staff’s preparedness, readiness, and responsiveness.

Next week, we will explore the use cases of the AVERT software in-depth.

You can learn more about the NMLEA’s MARSEC ADapT program here and here.