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From Trust to Zero Trust and Back

By Enrique Alfredo González Huitrón - Nautech de México
Founder & CEO


By Enrique Alfredo González Huitrón | CEO & Co-Founder - Fri, 02/24/2023 - 11:00

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Some years ago, in the pre-pandemic world, a whole bunch of startups were founded, rose up and even turned into unicorns (companies valued at a billion dollars or more). Corporates like Uber, Airbnb and Spotify disrupted the world and their respective industries through the platform economy, using technology to allow consumers “to share, rent, swap, or trade almost any goods and services” in a collaborative economy that continues to revolutionize the world today. This collaborative economy was also called “the Trust Economy” due to the fact that businesses and consumers started transacting between each other based on the trust they generated not only through the products and services offered or demanded but also as peers in those transactions. Needless to say, the exponential growth of many of these companies during the pandemic proved them right about their decision to invest in trust.

On the other hand, in today’s highly digitalized and (almost) post-pandemic world, we’ve seen a concerning increase in cyberattacks, not only against companies but also against people. Almost everyone has witnessed or suffered a direct attempt to hack, cheat or breach their username and/or password for their bank accounts, social networks or any other sensitive accounts or tool. In the same period, we have seen several national and international entities being hacked: PEMEX and the Mexican Ministry of Defense for starters in Mexico; even big tech companies like Sony, Samsung, Uber, Mailchimp and Dropbox have been vulnerated, including the resulting reputational impact. This has generated a Zero Trust environment in connection to the digital companies and their cybersecurity infrastructure. Of course, this structure is addressed to prevent cyberattacks and does not refer to not trusting in your customers or suppliers, but it seems the confusion may have that effect too.

One of the most important reasons to remain adamant about digitalization in offshore oil and gas logistics is precisely the zero trust that companies have in each other within this segment. Companies do not trust the ship/helicopter operators’ performance and such operators do not trust their customers when the service is completed and the time for payment has arrived. There is a lack of trust in this industry around technologic tools and platforms to manage their fleets and logistics that is based on the fear of being hacked. The worst of it is that they are being hacked nonetheless. Instead of hacking software and databases, hackers are attacking these companies by blocking the excel sheets in which they base their operations and demanding a ransom. It seems that the lack of trust also pays off but in a negative way.  

Wartsila, one of the most reputable companies in maritime technological development (first hardware and now software), has recently published a very interesting report about the perspective of the maritime digital transformation and the attitude many maritime professionals around the world have toward this tendency. The irony of the title of this report, Debunking Maritime Myths of Digital Transformation, reveals how controversial is the point of view about digitalization within the maritime industry. Myths have a plethora of feelings like fear, mysticism, hope and, of course, trust. Some of the insights from this report make clear the hope of the industry by highlighting that “78% agree that change and technological innovation is a good thing,” and at the same time, “69% believe that the ability to digitize existing infrastructure and retrofit vessels is challenging.” This means that all along the maritime sector, there are mixed opinions about digital transformation, the trust they have in it and the paths available to pursue it.

However, there are options for this sector. Option No. 1: Invest in technology by building a proper infrastructure around their current business model. This seems expensive and difficult since it necessarily results in more overhead, which they don’t need. Option No. 2: Assign that job to a tech platform. Such a platform will invest in building the required infrastructure, develop the tools and software, provide maintenance, implement a robust cybersecurity hardware infrastructure to keep sensitive data safe by encrypting it, and the best part for customers and operators: turn this into a variable cost, not an overhead. Let the platform build the Zero Trust Cybersecurity architecture and just trust in all the benefits this industry may get from it. This means getting all benefits with much less risk, investment and cost. Some of the operators are even thinking about investing more in hardware for their vessels; however, this would be more of the same, since it does not affect the business model, which is the main source of inefficiencies. This would only add costs and require numerous investments rather than cut them.

Speaking of cost and investments, the main “exchange coin” used for achieving this will be trust. The same trust they use to rent a house, apartment or accommodation in a foreign country with Airbnb. The same trust they invest in hiring a car with a complete stranger driving it, like Uber. The same trust they use for transferring their money to invest in the Mexican stock market like GBM+ or to put their savings or payroll collection with Albo, Stori, Hey, or any other fintech. Trust is a smart investment that always pays off.

All these measures and technology are available today. As Samuel Johnson once said: "You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough." Offshore maritime logistics companies have been deceived many times, but they will have to start trusting each other and in the digital transformation of their industry since its arrival is  inevitable. 

There are options of smart platforms using a robust cybersecurity infrastructure for offshore boats/helicopter operators to partner with and which may be useful during the imminent digitalization wave to come. More info at info@nautech.com.mx.



Photo by:   Enrique Alfredo González Huitrón

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