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Cybersecurity Gaps and Opportunities in the Logistics Industry

Shipping and logistics is, in many ways, the backbone of our lives and businesses. What business doesn’t benefit from fresh food or a timely delivery? Unfortunately, this industry is open to cyberattacks just like anyone else. Luckily, groups in the trucking and logistics industry aren’t powerless to address these challenges. Check out how you can begin to take a strategic approach to security on the road. 

 

Recent Cyberattacks on the Logistics Sector

Trucking and logistics companies suffered their fair share of cyber attacks in 2020. In October 2020, a U.S. flatbed trucking group said ransomware had affected one of its operating companies. They made this announcement after the Conti ransomware group posted files from what it claimed was the operating company to the dark web.

A trucking and freight transportation logistics company suffered a Hades malware infection in December 2020. In response, the company was forced to take all of its IT systems offline while it dealt with the attack.

The COVID-19 vaccine supply chain has also been attacked, this time using the venerable method of phishing emails. A threat actor broke into a German biomedical company critical to the COVID-19 cold chain. From there, they launched phishing emails to its partners involved with transporting the vaccine. 

So, what’s going on in the trucking and logistics industry that’s fueling these attacks?

 

Cybersecurity Challenges Abound

Trucking and logistics groups are grappling with several digital challenges at once. One of the most important of those is balancing defense with modern tools. Most businesses in this sector use sensors and other Internet of things (IoT) devices to help them monitor and manage their supply chain operations.

On the one hand, these tools yield useful connections. On the other, they complicate things by adding smart products into the network that often lack security by design. Malicious actors could abuse software flaws within those devices to disrupt business.

The supply chain itself is also at risk. Like businesses in other industries, many logistics and trucking entities grant network access to their vendors, partners and suppliers. This decision promotes connectivity and efficiency, thereby helping these groups keep their schedules. But, it also expands the attack surface. This access makes it possible for a malicious actor to compromise one of those third parties. From there, they can misuse their network access to breach their trucking and logistics partner.

 

The Human Element

Lastly, many trucking and logistics entities lack the know-how to defend themselves against these types of digital threats. In a 2019 report, for instance, Eye for Transport (EFT) found that fewer than half (43%) of trucking and logistics organizations had a chief information security officer (CISO). That didn’t bother most respondents, however, only 21% of them told EFT they felt they needed a CISO’s expertise.

These findings underscore two problems. First, not having a CISO means a company probably doesn’t have a formal plan in place for addressing threats either. Second, in the view that they don’t need a CISO, most entities implicitly ignore the importance of a good defense. If you don’t believe you need expert guidance in the first place, you won’t get an expert to deal with it. But not taking any meaningful approach to their defense isn’t a solution. It leaves every window and door open to malicious actors.

 

Best Practices for Cybersecurity in Logistics

Taking a strategic approach means researching vendors that take a serious approach to the security of their smart products. You’ll know they’re serious if they release firmware updates remotely and allow customers to change the default admin credentials. You should also consider using network segmentation to isolate IoT devices. Doing so will help to prevent a potential compromise of one of these smart products from spreading to the rest of the IT network.

Moving on to supply chain security, entities need to carefully choose their vendors and build an inventory of their selected partners. They can then use service-level agreements to require that vendors complete a risk assessment in order to maintain their business partnership. With those results in hand, trucking and logistics entities can remediate certain weaknesses by drawing on the strength of their connections with their vendors, suppliers and partners. This will enable them to implement data encryption and other security best practices as well as to formulate an incident response plan if and when a supply chain security incident occurs.

Finally, trucking and logistics organizations can accomplish all of these suggestions and more by working with a trusted managed security services provider. Doing so will not only guide your cybersecurity program, but will also help to build a positive security culture within the workplace. You might not have a CISO, but with the right provider, you’ll have the security expertise your business needs to adapt to the changing threat landscape and minimize digital security risk going forward.

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