Rotterdam container terminal goes manual amid cyberattack


Rotterdam (Netherlands) (AFP)

One of Europe's largest container terminals was Wednesday forced to return to using manual operations to thwart a wave of cyberattacks targeting global computer systems.

"We are open and working. We have two terminals, so instead of normal computerised processes we are using manual processes," spokesman for APM Terminals in Rotterdam, Tom Boyd, said.

"Today we are handling 4,500 containers. It's more labour extensive, but we are making it work. We are communicating with our customers through gmail and other things because the IT system is down," he told AFP.

The Dutch port of Rotterdam is Europe's biggest, and one of the top 10 in the world, handling more than 461 million tonnes of cargo a year, and welcoming the largest container ships in the world.

APM Terminals, which is a part of the Danish global shipping firm Maersk, runs two terminals at the sprawling port which stretches across 42 kilometres (26 miles) and leads from the southwestern Dutch coast out into the North Sea.

Boyd confirmed the cyberattack had hit on Tuesday, snapping the company's internet links and phone links.

"But that doesn't mean work stops. All our people are in place, and the terminal is open," he said, adding the company was communicating via mobile phones and using the safe, encrypted WhatsApp messenger system to keep in contact with staff.

"We have 76 ports around the world, some are affected and some are not. But they are all open and working and we just have to see over time what the total assessment is."

While APM's so-called NV1 terminal at Rotterdam was working, the more automated NV2 did not "have much operations going on there today".

But Boyd said for the company it was "a good case study that in today's world there are still ways of doing" business even if "it may not be as fast and efficient as some normal procedures."

Dutch global parcel express service TNT was also hit by the ransomware attack, but a spokesman said Wednesday the company has "implemented operational contingencies to continue to operate with some restrictions and some delays".

Meanwhile, in a separate incident Dutch police were also hit by computer chaos on Wednesday, but stressed it was unrelated to the cyberattack.

"There is a malfunction going on which is affecting street operations, making it difficult to retrieve personal information and print receipts," police spokesman Marten Schwandt told the NOS broadcaster.