The transportation sector has become fertile hunting ground for cyber attackers because there's high-value associated with the entire process. From the financial obligations between shipper and carrier to the value of the freight itself, there are many targets of opportunity.
There are many advantages of creating a proactive security posture to protect your cargo and your company including regulatory adherence, vulnerability management and protection from financial, time and reputational damage.
Proactive security programs are often part of regulatory requirements in certain industries. When you put robust measures in place, it shows your commitment to cybersecurity and helps you avoid issues with compliance, especially if an attack does occur.
Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing offer in-depth insights to prevent security breaches before they occur. With these measures, you can assess your weak points before hackers find them, giving you a chance to shore up security.
No matter the type or size of a breach, they nearly always come with financial damage, lost time, and reputational damage. You may need to pay a ransom to regain access to your systems, but on an operational level, you may face disruptions that last for weeks or months – if not years.
As a result, you may have lost revenue, unhappy customers, and a lot of wasted time. With reputational damage, you could feel the effects of lost trust in the brand you worked so hard to build for years.
Reactive cybersecurity measures aren’t a match for the sophisticated cyber criminals of today. They’re more organized, smarter, and more creative, and they understand the high-value targets that logistics companies represent.
Precautions to increase protection in transit
Assess risk exposure. The first step in any cybersecurity strategy is understanding your current risk exposure. Consider all your potential threats, including external threats like ransomware and phishing attacks and internal threats like compromised credentials or misconfigured systems.
Your digital assets, both in the cloud and on-premises, also have risks. Look for weaknesses and gaps, then close them as soon as possible. After all of this is complete, you can implement a vulnerability management program to assess risk on an ongoing basis.
Maintain your data backups. No matter how strong your security posture is, you may still experience an attack. With backups in place, you can minimize the damage by retaining your sensitive data in a secure offsite location. If you experience a ransomware attack, you will still have all the information you need to reduce your downtime and save yourself a ransom.
Another benefit of a backup system is that you have a contingency plan if an attack is successful, as well as a plan to address possible disasters or other crises that can impact your business continuity. Test and update your backup strategy on a regular basis to make sure it’s ready to go if an attack happens.
Coordinate your threat preparedness and response. With a threat preparedness and response plan in place, you can defend your company and cargo from cyber attacks. Put procedures in place to protect, pinpoint, and react to cyber threats, including a detailed plan that assigns responsibility to everyone in your organization to address suspicious activity.
You should also prepare an incident response team that has the responsibility to manage cyber incidents quickly and efficiently. For example, this team can shut down access points or disable accounts to minimize damage.
Cybersecurity solutions like Sensor Technology (Smartbox) can help with this plan. These devices allow you to track your cargo in transit in real time, so you can respond to any threats as they occur.
Smartbox also offers physical security features, such as online monitoring for temperature and humidity, geofencing, forced-entry detection, and detectors for inside movement, vibration, light, and intrusion. You also have reports that can identify areas of weakness.
Measures like these are a step toward adopting a strong posture and minimizing the risk of goods stolen in transit or systems being infiltrated. They’re not enough on their own, but they can help you respond to attacks without major losses.
Manage cybersecurity across suppliers, vendors and partners. With a global economy, logistics companies must work with third-party suppliers, vendors, and partners to share or exchange data and deliver for customers. Cyber criminals are aware of this, so they know that attacking one of these partners offers access to the entire network with multiple companies.
Along with creating a robust cybersecurity policy for your own company, you must communicate your cybersecurity expectations across all suppliers and partners to get everyone on the same page. If they have a more passive approach to security, it may not be a good fit for your company.
With your security policies in place, create a code of compliance among your vendors, suppliers, and partners. Ensure that they are committed to your established security protocols, such as proper encryption techniques to protect shared data, both at rest and in transit, and limitations on user permissions. Measures like these are essential to prevent compromised credentials and mitigate the damage with a breach.
Ensure social engineering awareness. Social engineering attacks are frequent modes of attack for logistics companies. It’s important to collaborate with IT partners to conduct real-world, periodic, and variable testing at the supplier level across your network. In doing so, you will identify vulnerabilities that may exist in your partners’ or vendors’ networks, as well as your own, that could put you all at risk.
Adopt a proactive stance to protect cargo from cyber attacks. COVID-19 disrupted the world, and few industries felt it as acutely as logistics. Hackers quickly recognized the potential gold mines in logistics, both with the cargo transport vehicles and the companies that manage them, and the wealth of information they can gain from a successful attack. If you’re relying on traditional cybersecurity measures, it may not be enough to withstand the risk, so it’s essential to adopt a proactive posture to identify, plan, and mitigate the threats of cyber attacks.
David is CEO of DB Schenker USA, a 150 year old leading global freight forwarder and 3PL provider. David Buss is responsible for all P&L aspects in the United States, which is made up of over 7,000 employees located throughout 39 forwarding locations and 55 logistics centers.