Could hackers hijack your data — and your loads?

For too many, the answer is yes.

Today, crime syndicates are growing increasingly tech-savvy — exploiting data security vulnerabilities to execute fictitious pickups or redirect and intercept loads. Meanwhile, freight industry businesses often under-resource and underfund IT.

That’s a mistake.

Just ask the carrier whose data was recently stolen. A criminal driver simply applied the stolen truck number over his own and disappeared with the legitimate carrier’s load of beef.

Or, ask the shipper who wondered why their load of expensive electronics hadn’t been delivered. As it turns out, a cybercriminal had hacked its system, changed the destination address to an alternate warehouse—and disappeared into the night with a valuable haul.

So, if you’re reviewing your cargo security strategy in advance of the seasonal spike in cargo theft, be sure you give data security some serious consideration, too. Otherwise, you could be throwing the door wide-open and inviting cybercriminals to eat your business for lunch.  

What do the data security experts recommend?

  • Be vigilant with company — and personal — data.
    Verify the source and reason for information requests and ensure the legitimacy of received links and files.
  • Establish workers as the first line of defense.
    Regularly train everyone in the organization to use cybersecurity best practices, such as recognizing phishing attempts and securely connecting to public WiFi.
  • Ensure systems have safeguards in place.
    It’s critical that an organization only grants data access to those who truly need it and properly implements and maintains systems and applications to reduce intrusions.

There’s quite a bit you can do on a personal level to protect your company’s — and your own — data:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for your personal data — whether the requests are made by call, text, or email
  • Independently verify requests for data through the contact information listed on business websites — never use the contact information provided in the message
  • Confirm data and financial requests from people who don’t ordinarily make those requests of you are legitimate before you act
  • Don’t click links or download files from people and sources you don’t know and trust
  • Don’t share personal or financial data via email or any other digital means — and don’t click links that request this information from you
  • Before you share sensitive data, confirm the website you’re visiting is secure (you can look for the closed padlock icon and a URL that begins with the HTTPS security protocol) 
  • Look closely at email addresses and URLs — slight spelling or punctuation changes can cue you into a spoofed source
  • Be wary of generic email greetings from people you know — in short, trust your gut
  • Never use a flash drive that’s not your own or from a trusted source

At the end of the day, cybercriminals only need to identify one chink in your armor to cause considerable damage to your business. That’s why a robust, organization-wide approach to cybersecurity is critical to addressing the growing threat of cyber-related cargo theft.

So, be sure you’re mindful when it comes to your own data and that your company has reviewed its cargo security strategy with your IT team as well. 

Remember: A sound cargo security strategy also accounts for recovery

This is an arms race. Just as you’re implementing more sophisticated cybersecurity strategies and technologies, cybercriminals are likewise attempting innovative (and nefarious) approaches to seizing your data — and your loads.

Meaning, no matter how vigilant you are, prevention will always be an incomplete solution.

Even when you and your company do absolutely everything right, you simply can’t prevent every cyber breach. That’s why ensuring your rapid financial recovery is also an important consideration. 

The simple fact is law enforcement doesn’t have the time and resources to make cargo theft investigations a priority. And, if you lose a load, the consequences can be far reaching. 

Not only might you be responsible for absorbing the value of the lost freight, but you could be on the hook for expedited replacement freight costs and labor costs associated with filing claims. Worst of all, you’ll damage your business’ reputation and impact customer loyalty.

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