Rise of Shipping Cyber attacks2 min read

If cyber-attacks are everywhere, why wouldn’t they be on the rise with shipping? Cyber-attacks on organizations and platforms dealing with shipping and logistics are on the rise. Hackers see opportunity in shipping and logistics since it’s a vast network with several stakeholders. And there is a lot of data held in these systems. With logistics, there are dozens of players in each supply chain and it’s an industry where you need a lot of people handling data. For example, FedEx and UPS hold a lot of crucial customer data that can be lost to hackers. Banks and defense organizations invest a lot to circumvent such risks. But logistics companies fail to see the risks as clearly as banks do. So, hackers see them as easy targets now.

Data theft is not unheard of in shipping carrier companies. Competition is key since there are only a few players in the industry. Data theft can lead to major losses in the cut throat logistics world. The reputation of several people is on the line if data breaches happen.

Crimes in shipping and logistics can range from a simple tracking of a package that’s then picked from a doorstep to something major. Hackers can tamper with systems to reroute packages through non bonded areas. Bypassing customs in these places, they can remove or damage shipments. The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s report states that in 2013, hackers worked their way into IT systems at the Belgian port of Antwerp. They then smuggled drugs into the country. This is not the only case of this kind so far. Statistics on this is also not always right because stakeholders do not want to come out with their breach stories and scare their customers.

These are red herrings that need to be tracked for potential cyber-attacks in shipping:

  • System irregularities
  • People asking questions on how things work
  • Unusual coincidences: system issues and manual errors, for example.

The problem with logistics systems is that they are very vast with respect to geography. People work on it at the same time from several corners of the world. Systems and processes are separated by geographical lines, time zones and language barriers. A single person in the link with maleficent intentions can prove to be costly. And there are more 3PL vendors than employees in any logistics network.

Going forward, every logistics company should ensure that possible cyber-attacks are averted. In case the inevitable happens, these companies should be in a position to handle the attack and emerge with their data intact. In the wrong hands, data of customers can become powerful and lead to very harmful repercussions.


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