Bad faith is a philosophical concept used by Simon de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre to describe the phenomenon in which human beings, under pressure from social forces, adapt false values and disown their innate freedom, thereby acting inauthentically. Bad faith occurs when we lie to ourselves in order to avoid short term pain. We force ourselves to believe something that we are not really convinced by because it is easier.

Sartre believed that what we most frequently lie to ourselves about is that we don’t have other options, arguing that in all situations we have more than just a single choice. However, we find it more reassuring to pretend that we don’t have other options because, to our minds, it lets us off the hook when the result of said choice is suboptimal.

According to Sartre, we force ourselves to believe in what we are doing, the price being that we close off the opportunities for genuinely changing and improving our lives.

What, I hear you quite rightly ask, does this have to do with the superyacht industry?  

During the Superyacht UK Technical Seminar, those in attendance were shown a slide that highlighted a number of successful cybercrimes committed against individuals on board superyachts.

  • An owner lost $11 million in a cyber attack
    • A hacker used a phishing email to get into the network, gained access to negotiation talks between the owner and the broker. When a price was agreed, the hacker sent a confirmation email asking for the money to be paid into a different bank account.
  • One guest had over £100,000 stolen when criminals hacked his bank account through the superyacht’s network.
  • One captain lost €100,000 on what he thought was a fuel payment.
  • Others have been blackmailed with compromising photos.
  • Some have been forced to pay a ransom to unlock their vessel’s navigation systems.

 The list goes on…

Over the course of the last few years I have spoken to a number of captains and senior crewmembers that have accepted that the threat of cybercrime is very much real. However, these same individuals have openly admitted that they prefer to keep on board networks open so that guests can have unfettered access to their various devices and the joys of the internet.

Their argument, in essence, is that the guests demand it and therefore they have no choice but to comply. In these cases, the crew know that what they are doing carries risks, such as the ones described above, but nevertheless open up access to the network because it makes their lives easier to please the guests in the short-term – hence the relevance of Sartre’s existentialist conception of bad faith.

On superyachts all over the world, crews are conducting themselves in bad faith when they knowingly risk a cyber event to placate the nagging of guests, the price being that where cyber security is concerned, we are closing off the opportunities to genuinely change and improve the market.

It should be noted that Sartre did not use the conception of bad faith to wag his finger and reprimand individuals. Indeed, he didn’t see it as a surprising or unusual problem, rather a natural outcome of how the human mind works. He just wanted to remind people of their freedom to make choices.

Food for thought.


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