The most critical conference for an industry looking to master cybersecurity

The less-than-truckload (LTL) transport industry has never been more important to the U.S. economy than it is at a time when supply chains are snarled and consumers are relying on quick delivery of online orders.

Yet in many ways, the situation has never been more perilous for LTL trucking companies, and it’s all because of the growing reliance on – and growing threats associated with – digital technology.

Cyberthreats have materialized in the form of ransomware attacks, in which trucking companies literally have to pay hackers a ransom to stop their systems from being paralyzed. These threats have also taken the form of diagnostic system attacks, in which hackers can get access to information about routes and other critical data.

Hackers will shut down entire assets. They can steal customer information. They can make it impossible to run payroll. And every attack jeopardizes far more than just the company targeted. It jeopardizes the very heart of America’s system of commerce.

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has maintained a laser-focus on this issue in recent years and added some of the nation’s best minds on cybersecurity to its staff, and offering extensive materials to help the industry protect itself and, most prominently of all, hosting an annual Digital Solutions Conference.

The 2023 version of this complimentary conference will take place in Houston October 22-25, and will cover the landscape when it comes to transport-related cybersecurity issues.

These programs include a review of the cyberthreat landscape facing the trucking industry; current tools and strategies for preventing truck hacking; explaining the IoT (Internet of Things) and how it can leave you vulnerable; how to build a culture of cybersecurity at your company; best practices in API security; exercises to test your company’s preparedness; understanding IT security and OT security; threats from the most basic of sources: Email; and securing the right level of cybersecurity insurance to match your need and risk.

NMFTA’s focus on cybersecurity has proven to be essential for an industry that is quickly embracing technology as a way of enhancing operational excellence, reducing costs and improving efficiency.

Just think how quickly the trucking industry is coming to depend on digital tools. Within just a few years, most functions pertaining to dispatch, finance, routing, warehousing and even truck maintenance have come to be controlled by digital platforms. The driver who used to keep track of delivery details with Excel spreadsheets, and communicated via text or e-mail, now uses sophisticated transportation management systems that can be operated entirely from a smartphone.

Entire enterprises gain efficiency, visibility and unprecedented opportunities to upgrade customer service and employee satisfaction. That’s the power of digital advancements in the trucking industry.

It’s also the reason hackers have their sights on the industry. They realize that digital innovation is a relatively new development in trucking, and they understand how seriously they can cripple the industry if they prevent its digital platforms from operating in a secure and effective manner.

It must be our top priority to make sure there is no reason for these cyberattackers to smell blood in our water, and the Digital Solutions Conference is the annual linchpin of that effort.

Speakers in recent years have dealt with both the technical and the personal, with one of last year’s most popular presentations dealing with how easy it is to get people to click a link without really knowing if it’s trustworthy.

This year, the lineup of speakers will include, but not limited to Chad Hunt, Supervisory Special Agent Cyber Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta Office; Michele Sullivan, Security Sales Specialist, Microsoft; Dr. Jeremy Daily, Associate Professor of Systems Engineering, Colorado State University; Dr. Ryan Gerdes, Associate Professor, Virginia Tech; George Reeves, Cybersecurity Advisor, Region VI, Southeast Texas and New Mexico, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); Eileen J. Sciarra, Vice President of Growth, Cloud Security Alliance; and Robert Kaster, Chief Technical Expert, Robert Bosch LLC.

The conference will also offer NMFTA’s own in-house experts, such as Director of Enterprise Security Antwan Banks, Senior Cybersecurity Research Engineer Ben Gardiner, and Digital Solutions Development Manager Brian Kresge.

And because of the importance of this issue, the conference is offered at no charge and open to the entire trucking industry, not just those in LTL.

If you can’t afford to have your company vulnerable to cyberattacks, then you can’t miss this conference in Houston from October 22-25. Find out more here.

Debbie Ruane Sparks is executive director of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). Since 1956, the NMFTA has represented the interests of the less-than-truckload (LTL) motor carrier industry, as well as carriers doing business for the government, or crossing the border. NMFTA is also working to help all carriers meet the challenges confronting the transportation industry in the 21st century through research, education, and the publication of specifications, rules, transportation codes, and the preparation and dissemination of studies, reports, and analyses. Membership in NMFTA is available to all for-hire interstate and intrastate motor carriers.