DP World Australia has become the latest maritime company to be targeted by a cyber attack, Australian authorities have confirmed.

The company said on Sunday that it has made “significant progress” in re-establishing freight operations after a hack forced it to restrict access to four of the nation’s largest ports, reported Bloomberg.

“The Australian Government continues to work with DP World Australia to resolve a nationally significant cyber incident that has affected operations at a number of ports around the country,” the government’s National Cybersecurity Coordinator Darren Goldie wrote on X.

“While I understand there is interest in determining who may be responsible for the cyber incident, our primary focus at this time remains on resolving the incident and supporting DP World to restore their operations.”

Goldie said DP World’s IT system remains disconnected from the internet, significantly impacting their operations in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.

“Our priority remains assisting DP World to restore their systems, which will allow cargo operations to recommence,” he said.

On Sunday, DP World advised the Australian government that the time frame for interruptions to continue is likely to be a number of days, rather than weeks.

About 30,000 containers of goods are stuck from moving in and out of the DP World terminals, the Australian Financial Review reported.

Ships can still load or unload containers, but trucks cannot get into terminals to pick up or drop off their consignments because the systems are offline, it said.

DP World manages almost 40% of the goods flowing in and out of Australia, and this incident is affecting the ports of Melbourne, Fremantle, Botany and Brisbane, Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil wrote in posts on X.

In July, Japan’s biggest maritime port Nagoya was the victim of a ransomware attack that resulted in the suspension of the loading of containers onto trucks, while ship loading and unloading operations were also affected.

The attack on Nagoya followed a series of cyber attacks on ports earlier in the year as hackers identified the sector as a key logistics target.

In June this year, hackers targeted the port of Rotterdam’s website, while attacks have also been reported at the ports of Amsterdam and Groningen. Hackers also attacked the Port of Lisbon in December last year.

Beyond ports, port state control authority Tokyo MOU revealed in its annual report it had been the victim of a cyber attack in 2022.

Maritime companies have admitted paying ransomware demands in increasing numbers, with the average cost of unlocking computer systems reaching $3.2m this year, according to a recent study.

A survey of more than 150 industry professionals in the maritime sector found that 14% admitted to paying a ransom following a cyber attack in 2023, compared with 3% the previous year, according to the study by law firm HFW and maritime cyber security company CyberOwl.