Along with all of the advantages technology has afforded to fleets come major challenges as well. High up on that list, if not topping it, is the threat of cyberattacks. We continually read about attacks that disrupt the supply chain and the ancillary businesses. For fleets, these cyberattacks pose threats to vehicles, cargo, safety, data, and ultimately, the company’s bottom line. Admitting that these threats exist is the first step in your path towards better cybersecurity.
Watch out for these cyber risks
There’s no disputing that technology has helped streamline the processes and operations of fleets. Telematics, GPS tracking, ELDs…all of these have helped reduce the cost and time of keeping our trucks on the road and making on-time deliveries. But this same technology has opened up fleets to the following risks:
- Data breaches – Whether it’s driver information, shipment details, or a company’s financial records, there is a great deal of data that could be extremely harmful if breached. Companies could realize financial losses, legal consequences, and damage to their reputation.
- Remote hijacking – This is one of the scariest cyber risks as the potential to hack vehicle systems increases. A bad actor gaining control over a truck could lead to accidents, cargo theft, or ransom demands.
- Malware and ransomware – These attacks are events we continue to see that affect businesses, hospitals, government agencies and just everyday people. A company that falls victim to ransomware can find itself literally frozen until the ransom is paid (and sometimes not even then). Malware can result in a hack into data and records that can be incredibly costly to resolve.
- Supply chain disruptions – Any time the flow of goods is disrupted, the effects are felt all the way down the line. Delayed shipments and customer dissatisfaction can lead to significant financial losses.
- Insider threats – Many breaches occur because an employee with access to sensitive data may fall for a phishing email and open a link that releases the malware. On rare occasions, an employee may deliberately compromise data.
Ten practices to bolster cybersecurity
Protecting your company’s data against cybercriminals may seem insurmountable. To be fair, even the most tech savvy company has found their data compromised. Every business today needs an IT department or employee who is well-versed in the risks to cybersecurity. There are additional steps you can take to mitigate the damage.
- Ongoing employee training – As cybercriminals get smarter and AI becomes more difficult to detect, you need to keep educating your staff about cybersecurity risks and let them know how important it is that they report suspicious activities immediately. Teach them how to recognize phishing attempts and inform them of new ways cybercriminals are tricking employees so they will be on the lookout for such attempts.
- Regular software updates – This should be obvious but some teams may get complacent and not install the latest updates to their software and systems. It is vital that all operating systems, applications, and IoT devices have the latest updates to patch any vulnerabilities.
- Network security – Implement firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and encryption protocols to secure your network and data transmissions.
- Control access – You may have too many employees with access to critical systems and data. Limit the access only to those whose job roles necessitate access. Then implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) to enhance identity verification.
- Data encryption – Encrypt sensitive data whether for internal usage or during transmission to prevent unauthorized access.
- Backup and recovery – This is something that should be done as a general practice to guard against not just cyberattacks but power outages or other potential disasters and disruptions. By backing up critical data and systems, you ensure quick recovery when the danger has passed.
- Continuous monitoring – You need to be constantly vigilant to ensure that you can detect and respond to potential threats in real time. Monitor systems and networks continuously.
- Incident response plan – You likely have a disaster mitigation plan to respond to natural disasters or some other disruption. You should devote the same amount of time to developing a comprehensive response to a cyber breach. Regularly test and update this plan since cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways to threaten your business.
- Vendor assessment – Some of the worst data breaches companies experience didn’t originate in their own company but rather from a trusted vendor. According to an article in Cybersecurity Dive, :”A total of 98% of organizations worldwide have integrations with at least one third-party vendor that has been breached in the last two years.” The article also notes that “Third-party vendors are five times more like to exhibit poor security.” Make sure your vendors meet your high security standards.
- Physical security – Cybersecurity needs to be backed up with actual physical security when it comes to access to vehicles, data centers, and other critical infrastructure.
As I noted above, instituting these practices isn’t a guarantee that your fleet and your company won’t experience a data breach, but if you can recover quickly, you can mitigate the damage. The ways cybercriminals attack keep changing, our security has to do the same.