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Securing the Transport Industry: Confronting the Ransomware Threat with a Google Cloud-Based TMS

Ransomware Threats in the Transportation sector: A State of the Industry Address

A 2019 study revealed that the logistics industry is the second most vulnerable to cybercrime, coming second only to the energy sector. Recent high-profile ransomware attacks have driven home that vulnerability and caused transportation providers to consider their cybersecurity infrastructures.

In June 2023, the industry reeled when the KNP Logistics group was rendered insolvent by an attack from the Akira ransomware gang. The attack, which “affected key systems, processes and financial information” dealt a terminal blow to the company’s operations, forcing over 700 redundancies. Although one of the group’s entities was sold, saving 170 jobs, this cautionary tale is one of many high-profile incidents over the last decade.

Logistics veterans have not forgotten the still-unquantified damage of the “Zombie Zero” malware that targeted ERP systems data and wrought havoc across entire supply chains in 2013, or the 2017 “NotPetya” cyberattack that ground container shipping Maersk Line’s operations to a halt for days. Even shipping giant Matson lost a terabyte of data to cybercriminals using the “Windows REvil” ransomware.

Ransomware attacks damage businesses in several ways. Even if businesses are able to recover costs lost to ransom payments, they must still reckon with the reputational damage wrought by a ransomware attack. As well as placing doubt in the minds of clients and prospects, such attacks can be demoralising to the staff who have had to deal with the immediate fallout of the attack. At best, this can mean a dip in productivity. At worst, it can lead to a spike in talent flight.

How to reduce the risk of a ransomware attack on your transport business

While the consequences of a ransomware attack can be dire for logistics and transport providers, a combination of the right tools and operational practices can insulate them from the risk of attack.

We look at 5 ways businesses can confront the ever-present threat of ransomware.

1) Make employee training a top priority

Human error is the root cause of 95% of all cybersecurity breaches. Don’t let your amazing team become the weakest link in your cybersecurity infrastructure. Employee training on data governance should be rigorous and ongoing to ensure that staff are ever-vigilant.

It should include:

  • How to spot phishing communications

  • Secure handling of physical terminals and devices

  • How to create a strong password

  • How to handle sensitive data (including UK GDPR compliance)

  • How to report suspicious activity and communications

  • Each employee’s individual role in keeping the company safe from ransomware

2) Keep software up-to-date

Operating systems and software platforms are fundamental to efficient operations in the logistics and transportation sector. They are also a point of cybersecurity vulnerability. These software systems are regularly updated to ensure that they offer robust protections against the latest malware threats.

Failing to keep them up-to-date can leave companies open to attack.

3) Maintain multi-factor authentication

Strong passwords are an essential form of user authentication, and they should be changed every 3 months to ensure optimal data security. However, passwords should also be supplemented with multi-factor authentication whenever a user accesses a new TMS, tool or network from a new device.

4) Back-up mission-critical data regularly

Ransomware works by either exfiltrating mission-critical data and encrypting it or, in some cases, deleting it altogether. This can send operations grinding to a halt. Backing up mission-critical data can mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks on operations and provide a measure of business continuity.

5) Invest in a cloud-based TMS

If you are a transportation or logistics provider, your TMS is the beating heart of your operations. It is up to you to make sure that heart is well protected. A server-based TMS is vulnerable to ransomware attacks, whether stored locally or at a data centre.

A cloud-based TMS, on the other hand, makes it easier for businesses to do much of the above. Because they are stored in the cloud, they are decentralised and less vulnerable to a physical breach. Moreover, they are updated automatically and provide a secure means to backup critical data.

How Qargo can help

Qargo is built around the security priorities of the transportation sector.

Our cloud-based TMS is protected by Google Cloud Armour and is updated automatically so users know that they are always accessing the latest version. All data handled by the system is encrypted in accordance with ISO 27001 security standard practices, while machine learning is trained to identify layer 7 DDoS ransom attacks.

And because two-factor authentication is in place for all Qargo employees, users need never worry about hackers gaining access to your company’s data through our developer accounts.

These robust security features help to protect your business from the ubiquitous threat of ransomware attacks, while also aiding operational efficiency, reporting and scalability.

Why not book a demo today and see for yourself?


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