A “CYBERSECURITY incident” has impacted operations at container terminal operator DP World’s Australian operations.

The company said it is working “around the clock” to restore normal operations safely after being alerted to the incident on Friday.

The company said it is working with government and private sector stakeholders to ensure that “sensitive inbound freight can be prioritised and retrieved”.

On Saturday (11 November) the company said it had taken “immediate action”, which included “disconnecting” its internet activity, which it said stopped ongoing unauthorised access to its network.

“This has also resulted in key systems, which underpin operations at [DP World’s] Australian ports, to not function normally,” the company said.

“This was necessary to contain the incident and minimise the impact on […] employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.”

The company on Friday said it had “restricted landside access” to its port operations while its investigations continue.

“This is part of a comprehensive response which includes engaging with cybersecurity experts, actively investigating the incident and notifying the relevant authorities,” the company said.

“Our goal is to be transparent while ensuring the accuracy of any information we share.”

On Sunday (12 November) DP World said it had activated its “business continuity plan” to facilitate the flow of some freight, and “is collaborating with industry partners, including other ports and terminal operators”.

In the statement, it said it had made “significant strides” in addressing the incident.

“Currently, DP World Australia teams are testing key systems crucial for the resumption of normal operations and regular freight movement,” the company said on Sunday afternoon.

A post on X (formerly Twitter) from the National Cyber Security Co-ordinator on Saturday evening, said the government was responding to a “nationally significant cyber incident impacting a number of maritime port facilities operated by DP World Australia”.

He said the interruption is likely to continue “for a number of days” and would impact the movement of goods into and out of Australia.

The Container Transport Alliance Australia on Saturday said the real difficulty going forward is the delays caused by this outage will compound the delays caused by ongoing protected industrial action at DP World’s Australian terminals.

Maritime Union of Australia members commenced industrial action at the beginning of October after negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement broke down. At the end of October, the company said the industrial action had already caused its throughput to plummet.

CTAA said the flow-on impacts in the container logistics chain are “enormous”.

“Importers, exporters, freight forwarders, and transport operators alike are concerned about the significant added costs of these delays,” the industry body said.

“This includes uncertainty about the attitude of shipping lines on extending container detention free-time for the return of empty import containers, or export container detention if export containers miss vessel export receival cut-offs due to the logistics turmoil caused by these delays.”

CTAA said DP World should be supporting their landside logistics customers in approaches to shipping lines seeking container detention relief.

“Equally, shipping lines affected by these massive cargo flow disruptions should be offering container detention free-time extension relief to cargo interests,” CTAA said.

“These circumstances also again highlight the need for regulatory oversight of the landside logistics costs imposed on Australian companies where the imposition of fees and charges could be deemed to be ‘unreasonable’.”

DP World operates container terminals in Brisbane, Port Botany, Melbourne and Fremantle. DP World is the one of the two largest container stevedores in Australia, with a total of 2 million lifts in 2021-22, according to last year’s Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report, published by the ACCC.