Weak data security: Are you vulnerable to cyber-related cargo theft?

Story by

Meshach Weber

Tags /

  • Cargo Theft
  • Data
  • Security

If you’ve plotted out a robust cargo security strategy—but you haven’t fully addressed data security—you’re simply closing a screen door on the cyber sharks who’d love nothing more than to profit from your loss.

And, unfortunately, the cyber threat is growing—today, crime syndicates are seizing on data security vulnerabilities to successfully execute fictitious pickups, as well as redirect and intercept valuable freight.

In one recent case, a legitimate shipper contracted with a legitimate carrier—but when the carrier’s information was stolen, a criminal driver applied a stolen truck number over his own and whisked away a truckload of beef.

In another instance, a hospital was awaiting a load of computers and medical equipment—a load that never arrived. A cybercriminal had hacked their system and changed the legitimate destination address to a fake warehouse.

The good news is that—whether you manage IT in-house or work with a managed services provider—there’s quite a bit you can do to lock down your data and mitigate your risk of cyber-related cargo theft.

Here’s some sage advice from experts in the data security, backup, and recovery space.

Create a strong human firewall

Did you know that 97% of cyberthreats are executed by tricking folks into clicking links, logging into spoofed login walls, and downloading files? Unfortunately, these campaigns are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and harder to detect.

It’s why if you ask an IT professional, they’ll tell you employee education is the best prevention. Awareness breeds vigilance, after all.

  • Begin by delivering a robust data security training session to your leadership team—they tend to be the most vulnerable, given their greater access to sensitive information, and their commitment will send a strong message to the rest of the company
  • Deliver the data security training session to your broader organization—ensuring employees know how to spot phishing attacks, create strong passwords, secure devices, and securely connect to public WiFi
  • Conduct mandatory refresher trainings every six to 12 months for your entire team, including leadership
  • Include data security training in your new employee onboarding process
  • Regularly conduct phishing testing to identify vulnerable employees—data security companies, like Sophos, KnowBe4, and Arctic Wolf all offer this service and many offer free trials
  • Make sure your employees know who they should call if they see something suspicious

Of course, it’s also critical to vet third parties who either have access to your load data or remote access to your systems—ensure they’re applying rigorous cybersecurity, as well. Otherwise, your cargo could remain at heightened risk despite your best efforts.

Secure your data, systems, and applications—and deny criminals access

Criminal organizations and legitimate companies, like yours, are in an arms race. As you adopt increasingly sophisticated technologies and best practices to protect your business-critical data, cybercriminals leverage increasingly advanced social engineering campaigns and technologies to sneak in through a backdoor.

Unfortunately, while data security best practices may be well-understood by IT professionals, their departments are often under-resourced and underfunded. Meaning, sound data security best practices may fall by the wayside as your team is busy spinning other plates.

Be sure they’re regularly implementing these tactics.

  • Practice the “principle of least privilege”—meaning, only grant employees access to the applications and data they need to do their jobs, minimizing the impact of a data security breach should they make a misstep
  • Implement secure password and multifactor authentication policies
  • Mandate the use of a password manager, like LastPass
  • Restrict company access to personal email and social media accounts so hackers can’t gain access to company data via accounts you don’t control
  • Immediately install security patches across all operating systems, software, applications, mobile devices, and IoT
  • Ensure operating systems and software are kept regularly updated
  • Implement browser security and web filtering to block phishing campaigns—and scan email content, filtering phishing messages and executable files
  • Leverage smart intrusion detection technologies to monitor traffic and identify threats
  • Vulnerability test your systems and immediately close open doors
  • Use proxy servers and ad-blocking software—and restrict who has permissions to install and run software applications
  • Prevent or block removable devices, like USB, on key systems

At the end of the day, an organization-wide awareness of cybercrime’s growing threat is key. So, be sure to review your cargo security strategy with your IT team and ensure you’ve addressed your cyber vulnerabilities, as well.

Of course, no matter how smart you are, keep in mind that prevention is only half of the solution—protecting your valuable freight with all-risk insurance and automated claims is critical as financial recovery may be your only option.

With this three-pronged approach in place—employee education, data security, and risk management—you’ll reduce the threat to your business and protect the relationships that are critical to your bottom line.