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Top Tips for Improving Cybersecurity in the Transportation Industry

Closeup of the front side of a truck

In December of 2020, transportation enterprise Forward Air suffered a massive ransomware attack. Despite the fact that Forward Air regularly conducted mock cyberattacks and regularly worked on their security practices, the crime still took place. It’s shocking, to say the least, as about 90% of ransomware attacks are completely preventable, even in the trucking industry. The unfortunate incident was a wakeup call to transportation and logistics companies around the world.

One might not think a trucking business could be the target of hackers-- However, trucking companies hold significant volumes of data about their customers, partners, and supply chain that could be viable for cybercriminals. It’s absolutely vital that small and large trucking companies alike have the best protocols and practices in place to secure their businesses.

So what’s the solution? In this quick guide, we’ll break down a few key best practices for transportation companies who want to keep up with their security practices and strategies in a digital age.

Limit Access to Your Systems

Regardless of industry or niche, one of the best lines of defense against cyberattacks is the practice of limiting access to your systems and sensitive data. We recommend using the “Principle of Least Privilege” practice for your fleets. Through this practice, general users are granted extremely limited access to sensitive data. Instead of simply trusting your staff to keep your business’s data safe, this practice ensures that your data is only shared among stakeholders and the highest management. This doesn’t mean that fleets and other staff are not trustworthy. This practice simply seeks to reduce overall access to your trucking company’s data and reduce instances of poor security hygiene. Just as well, ensure that your TMS vendor and other third-party partners enforce intense cybersecurity standards for their products and services.

Always Update

The transportation industry is notorious for being slow to adopt new management technology, especially transportation management software. Those that do manage to leave pen-and-paper management behind and opt for a TMS platform or other management software tend to not update or upgrade their systems regularly. This can be a huge problem. One cannot simply implement a security policy one time and not update those protocols on a bi-yearly or annual basis. Technology and cybercriminal prowess is constantly improving, so it’s vital to continuously update your processes, systems, software, and policies.

Conduct a Company-Wide Cybersecurity Assessment

There are many assessments you can use as a basic framework to determine what pain points and vulnerabilities exist in your company’s current infrastructure. An assessment can give you a better ballpark idea of how your current security practices hold up and where your potential strengths and vulnerabilities actually are. With an assessment, you’ll be able to build the foundation of an excellent cybersecurity strategy for your business. You can conduct an assessment on your own or hire a third-party security company to conduct one for you. We recommend conducting a security assessment once per year.

Consider an Insurance Policy

Did you know that cybersecurity insurance is something you can invest in? Cyber insurance plans can mitigate the negative effects causes by cyberattacks, can cover all or most of the cost of system recovery, and will assist your trucking company in protecting itself against lawsuits due to the breach. Typically, cyber insurance brokers will require that you have an intensive and modern cybersecurity policy or system in place before they will cover your business.

Train All of Your Staff

Many cybersecurity attacks happen as a result of carelessness or lack of cybersecurity awareness among the workforce, regardless of industry. This isn’t out of malice-- many businesses simply do not train their staff properly on cybersecurity safety and hygiene, so many employees will simply accidentally create opportunities for foreign entry. By ensuring that your workforce knows how to create secure passwords and recognize potential phishing attempts, they will be able to protect themselves and your company from cyberattacks. Invest your resources and time into the training process as soon as possible. It’s certainly more affordable and less of a headache than dealing with an extremely expensive and destructive data breach down the line.

Implement Antivirus Software

To really secure your trucking company, you’ll need to implement a cloud hosted transportation management system, which we’ll discuss in more depth in the next section. Outside of this, it can be beneficial to implement antivirus and malware software into your existing systems. Look into different vendors that offer such software for company networks and in-house devices or computers. Just as well, you may want to create a strict policy for your workforce on using personal devices while using your company’s shared network.

Use a Cloud Hosted TMS Platform

The implementation of a cloud hosted transportation management system (or TMS) should be your first line of defense against cyberattacks. A TMS is a vital part of a growth-minded transportation company anyway, as such systems make the overall management of fleets significantly more efficient. When it comes to cybersecurity, though, an excellent TMS system provides endless options for access, admin, and network security. To put it simply, a lot of work is required to secure a transportation business. In order to keep up with security, it is vital that your core systems (such as your TMS) is cloud hosted so you can focus more on your core competency.

The transportation industry is evolving and adopting new technology left and right-- and so are cybercriminals who want to take advantage of businesses that are still using outdated systems. An overhaul of your current TMS platform is necessary for cybersecurity!

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