APM Terminal at Los Angeles Port Returns to Normal After Shut Down Following Cyber Attack

It was the cyber shot heard around the world.

A global cyber attack that affected hundreds of companies and their computer systems crippled operations at A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world’s largest container carrier, headquartered in Denmark.

Following the cyber invasion on June 27, worldwide operations at Maersk’s 76 port terminals were hamstrung. Two days later, operations were finally gearing back to normal, but the Maersk-owned APM Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles was one of the last to remain out of service.

By early this week, Maersk said the gates at the Los Angeles port terminal were operating at 25 percent, but all other operations were returning to normal.

At first, due to limited access to their computers, Maersk Lines had problems processing orders taken right before the cyber-ware break in and was unable to process new orders.

By Wednesday, Maersk had developed some alternatives to take cargo orders through the electronic transaction platform INTTRA and EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange.

By June 29, many of Maersk’s port terminals were operating at near normal speed with a few larger port terminals in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Los Angeles lagging behind. “Los Angeles is one of our biggest port terminals,” said APM Terminals spokesman Tom Boyd. “We have 76 port terminals and 55 are working normally and 15 to 20 we have had to use manual processes to operate. Los Angeles is one of the ports where we want to make sure things are right when we hire our labor.”

Port of Los Angeles spokeswoman Rachel Campbell said she had not seen any cargo back-up yet at the APM Terminal and the port was waiting for an update on when the terminal—one of the largest at the LA port—would open.

Boyd said cargo-container ships were scheduled to arrive the evening of June 29 at the Port of Los Angeles and that they would be unloaded. “The imports are the easy part for us. It is a matter of taking them off the ships. Then we work something out with the customs department where we get the cargo released from them and then it is working with the truckers,” he said. “For us, it is more on the export side, which doesn’t affect apparel as much.”

He said if there was a backlog of cargo containers, the APM Terminal gates would be kept open during the weekend and later in the evening. “I think we will be very flexible with the customers to make sure we get their cargo them,” Boyd said.

However, it was unclear whether the APM Terminal gates would be open on July 4, a national holiday, and July 5, known as Bloody Thursday, named for the 1934 West Coast longshore strike that led to the birth of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. It is a national holiday for ILWU workers. “We have not had that discussion yet,” Boyd said.

Europe was hard hit by the cyber attack, but it was particularly aggressive in Ukraine, where the country’s banks, government offices, postal service and Kiev’s metro system were experiencing problems.

Big companies that were affected include Russian oil and gas giant Rosneft, U.S.-based pharmaceutical company Merck, French retailer Auchan Group, and the real estate division of BNP Paribas.

Some believe the cyber attack originated in Ukraine. A Ukrainian company called M.E.Doc sent out a compromised update to its tax software that contained malware, infecting computers that were running it.