October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and those involved in freight and logistics - just as in any industry, really - should heed this annual reminder to pay attention to their online exposure. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced the theme of this year's edition earlier this week: "See Yourself in Cyber." The goal behind it? To highlight the actions everyone can take to raise the baseline for cybersecurity across the country. Cybersecurity awareness, after all, is something everyone should have as so much of business and everyday life is conducted online. In freight & logistics, transportation management systems (TMS) are primarily cloud-based these days, along with many related components like shipment tracking systems, temperature monitoring, freight audit & pay software, load boards, market analytics, carrier portals and much, much more. Combine that with the fact that freight and logistics is a team sport, as in, shippers, freight brokers/3rd party logistics providers, carriers, all work together - bringing both their own software platforms along with those of third parties to the table to keep loads moving. But that teamwork also means exposure from not only one's own setup but also from everyone a business works with, which can lead to supply chain attacks. In other words, the freight and logistics industry perhaps more than others is especially vulnerable to cyber threats. Combine all that exposure to the value of freight & logistics to the world as a whole - as in, goods need to move to keep companies in business and consumers consuming - plus the aforementioned proprietary data involved in supply chains, and you have many an attractive target for ransomware or other cyber crime with incentives to pay up.
How can freight and logistics companies improve cybersecurity?
While investing in cybersecurity may be a cost companies involved in freight and logistics are unhappy to bear, those that leave their online exposure to chance may not be around long enough to care. There are certainly financial commitments required to get the best firewalls, security software and cyber insurance, but for those a bit gunshy about price tags, freight and logistics companies, their employees and anyone playing along at home, can take some fairly simple steps to immediately improve their cybersecurity posture:
Think Before You Click: Recognize and Report Phishing: If an email sender, subject line, link or attachment seems a little off, it very possibly is. Take a moment before clicking within or replying to such a message and verify another way. Otherwise, you could be opening a door to hackers or sending sensitive information where it shouldn't.
Update Your Software: Turn on automatic updates to get all the latest security patches. If you don't have them on yet, make sure you proactively download the latest versions of your software. Older versions likely have unpatched security vulnerabilities that offer a back door into your network.
Use Strong Passwords: Use passwords that are long, unique, and randomly generated. A trick is using a phrase with multiple words, spaces and punctuation. If you're concerned about remembering everything, use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts. A passwords manager will encrypt passwords securing them for you!
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Even the best passwords can be cracked. That's where you need a backup plan. In this case, enabling MFA makes you significantly less likely to get hacked because there's an added step like a text, email or app verification code required to get in.
Backup Your Files: Speaking of backup plans, keeping ongoing backups of your company's files is insurance against a ransomware attack, which sets out to lock files and hold them for ransom. If you can restore those files on your own, you can get back up and running quickly without having to pay up.
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