The world is making a digital transformation, with new technology being introduced every day that makes life easier and more convenient. This includes telematics systems like GPS and cloud technology used to optimize operational efficiency in the trucking industry.
Implementing technology into your trucking business improves productivity, but it also opens you up to more risk. According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, suspected internet crimes increased by nearly 40% between 2019 and 2020—and that number continues to grow exponentially. Internet crime complaints spiked by one million between May 2020 and May 2021.
Even digital spaces you might use for friendly conversation or networking are home to scammers and hackers. With so much activity happening online, it’s hard for moderators to keep up and protect users on these platforms. That’s why it’s important to have the know-how to protect yourself and make sure scammers aren’t making a profit at your expense.
You may think your trucking business is safe from cyber threats, assuming these criminals have nothing to gain from attacking. Unfortunately, no business is safe from internet hackers. Keep reading for critical information that will protect your business and your livelihood.
Why hackers target trucking companies
You may be asking, why would cybercriminals want anything from my business?
Trucking and logistics companies don’t see themselves as a target and fail to put the right security measures in place—which in turn actually makes them more attractive to attackers. Even small, family-owned businesses can be hit.
The goal of any hacker is to collect private data to use against their victims. This includes taking control over digital systems and holding them for ransom or obtaining details about your identity, like credit card numbers or tax documentation, that opens them up to financial information.
Why is it important to protect trucking businesses?
While many people’s lives have slowed down and some businesses quickly came to a halt, trucking companies and their drivers have been working through the pandemic to deliver critical materials to those who need them, like:
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Cleaning and sanitation products
- Food and household products
These individuals have been risking their lives to ensure hospitals, grocery stores and other retailers are equipped to serve patients and customers. Now that things have reopened across the country, many Americans are shopping more than ever, requiring trucking companies to step up and keep the economy moving.
Types of trucking cybersecurity attacks
To lower your risk, it’s important to first understand the most common goals of cybercriminals.
Gain access to customer information. You likely store private business information within one or more internal systems and web applications. Hackers will enter the system and obtain business details to hold hostage or use against you.
Gain access to identity information. Similar to stealing customer information, cybercriminals can get a hold of credit cards or other personally identifiable information (PII) to remove your competitive advantage or even sell to a competitor. They may also try to obtain your DOT number or other driver credentials that would allow them to pose as you and book orders using your identity.
Gain access to intellectual property. Hackers may also obtain intellectual property, which includes creations that belong to your business: inventions, designs, symbols, names and images.
Gain control of critical data. Other important information—tax and financial documentation, details about trucks and other equipment, etc.—may be stolen, encrypted then held as ransom for a price.
Prevent the use of your website. Criminals looking to take advantage of you may also gain access to your entire website and take it over—only letting you back in once you’ve paid an amount they request.
And often, criminals get far into their attack before you even notice if proper precautions aren’t in place.
Top tips on how to protect your trucking business from cybersecurity threats
Being the victim of a cyberattack can leave you feeling helpless. Fortunately, there are measures you can take now to improve security and reduce risk.
Analyze current risk
First, you must evaluate your current state. A thorough analysis will help to identify where weaknesses are and where additional safeguards are needed. This can be done by an internal IT team if you have the resources to do so. Many trucking companies, especially smaller businesses with few employees, are unable to support these efforts internally. The alternative option is to use a third-party service to do a security assessment. The upfront cost may put you off, but it will be less harsh on your wallet than a breach.
Implement a security plan
Once you’re aware of possible threats, you can be proactive and put protections in place. Establishing a firewall, running anti-malware programs and setting passwords for every program and user all contribute to a better overall security system. And only give employees access to the tools they need in their daily jobs. You may not be an expert in setting up a secure IT infrastructure, but there are plenty of businesses that offer services for implementation and ongoing management.
Be on alert for strange emails
If an email seems off, it probably is. Many internet criminals target people via email, including a link that will give them access to your information upon clicking or asking for confidential business information. First, look at the sender’s name and email address. If the name is unfamiliar or the email is not from a legitimate domain (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org), don’t click or respond. Legitimate companies will not ask for confidential information over email, so don’t respond and avoid clicking any links before verifying the sender is someone you can trust.
Use strong passwords and change them regularly
Train employees on proper password management. This means creating strong passwords that include letters, numbers and special characters and updating them regularly. Some programs can even be set up to require users to update their passwords every 90 days. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds another layer of security, requiring users to provide at least two pieces of evidence (often with a one-time code) to log into an internet application or resources.
Don’t do business on unmoderated platforms
Forums, discussion boards and Facebook groups are all popular ways to communicate with like-minded people in your field of work, but they’re not good places to do business. These platforms often have a very high volume of users but not enough moderation to filter out scammers. It’s not uncommon to see users in these groups posing as dispatchers and attempting to collect carriers’ personal information in order to steal their identity.
Individuals posing as legitimate dispatchers and phishing scam artists may try to collect carrier DOT numbers or any other personal information that would allow them to impersonate that driver. They will often contact the driver under a fake name and offer dispatch services—all the driver has to do is send over their credentials. Once the criminal gathers enough information, they often use it to book orders under the victim’s name and then receive payment up front without ever completing the shipment.
Unfortunately, the real dispatchers have no way of knowing they’re assigning an order to a scammer since they’re being presented with real credentials. The victim of the scam will also be responsible for the customer’s shipment despite not knowing the order was even made in the first place. Most drivers that fall victim to these scams only become aware of it after a customer or dispatcher comes inquiring about a missing order under that driver’s name.
To avoid this risk and make sure identity theft doesn’t happen to you, we recommend signing up for official load boards and only using those platforms to conduct business.
Don’t ignore software and application updates
Raise your hand if you click the “remind me later” option every time you get a pop-up reminding you to update a program on your computer. It can be quite the interruption and a test of your patience, but these updates provide essential system and data backups for added protection. The best part is that this is a free, fast and easy way to keep information secure, aside from a click and a few minutes taken out of your day.
It’s never too late to enhance your security
Whether you already have cybersecurity measures in place or are just getting started, it’s time to evaluate your IT systems and make protecting them a top priority. While it requires extra time and potentially extra budget, it’s well worth it to defend yourself against an attack that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars or more.
About Montway Auto Transport
As one of the largest car shipping brokers in the industry, Montway Auto Transport has the resources, support and hi-tech tools to keep your business safely moving forward. Our 15,000+ professional carrier network hauls nearly 200,000 vehicles a year. Learn more about Montway Auto Transport.