This is an example of the kind of email no-one wants to see, a message likely to haunt anyone in charge of the digital side of any trucking business:
“There is ONLY ONE possible way to get back your files — contact us via LIVE CHAT and pay for the special DECRYPTION KEY! For your GUARANTEE we will decrypt 2 of your files FOR FREE to show that it works. Don’t waste your TIME, the link for contact us will be deleted if there is no contact made in closest time. … However, if you will contact us within 2 day since get penetrated — you can get a very SPECIAL PRICE.”
In July last year, one of Canada’s largest trucking companies, Manitoulin Transport, became the sixth known operation to be the victim of a series of cyberattacks in that country in 2020. The company swung into action immediately, having been pre-warned by the other victims. Swift action enabled the operation to return to a semblance of normal operation within two days, and Manitoulin claim no customer data or information was compromised in the attack.
This attack was followed by a series of data leaks being released, by ransomware attackers, from other Canadian logistics operations which had been similarly attacked. These issues have led to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police creating a National Cybercrime Coordination Unit to work towards a coordinated response to these attacks. The six reported cases would only be the tip of the iceberg, any company which pays the hackers to free its data is not going to admit to having had its cybersecurity breached.
What can we do?
As data flows through various business systems, the number of protocols determining who can see which part of the data flow is complicated and important. These systems will contain customer and employee information, plus asset location and much more. All of this data is be transmitted across the mobile phone system and beyond.
Cyber criminals will be looking to leverage this data, capturing usernames, passwords, credit card details, and they are looking to use vehicle telematics data. In a typical telematics system, it can access, at a minimum, location data, vehicle diagnostics, driver behaviour, often including video of the driver and the truck.
“As businesses gravitate towards software-based systems and working in the cloud, telematics data security will become an even bigger challenge,” says advice from telematics supplier, Geotab. “Telematics systems are expansive and multi-tiered: they are a combination of physical hardware, radio systems, software servers, and human agents. Because there are many components involved, the potential threats are numerous, and can include theft, GPS jamming, cellular sniffing, firmware manipulation, server exploits, and phishing.
“Protecting telematics data requires a comprehensive, proactive approach. The integrity of the system relies on the upkeep of many sub-systems, each with its distinct set of potential vulnerabilities. Therefore, in addition to strong policies and processes, creating a culture of security across the organisation is the best way to protect data and create resiliency against malicious attacks.”
This advice is reflected across the transport industry with vigilance across the whole team being emphasised by those responsible for the information flows in trucking operations. This was emphasised by the management in the Canadian operation Manitoulin, they were pre-warned and prepared to fight off the attack as soon as it appeared.
One of the simple rules is to ensure to keep up with all the latest updates on all software. The software developers are constantly looking out for viruses and swift to shut them down. Any security policy needs to be transparent and easy to understand. This needs to be backed up with regular training around security, throughout the operation. It only takes one link in the chain to leave a small gap in the fence through which the cyber attackers can squeeze.