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Photo design by Aaron MarshFleet Owner

Photo design by Aaron Marsh/Fleet Owner

Data security: Let it not be an Achilles heel for trucking

Today as we remember the ghastly surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, it’s worthwhile to also recall the mistakes that helped pave the way for that horrific Japanese surprise attack to be successful – especially the information failures.

[Although, in the end, almost all the ships sunk at Pearl Harbor – except for the U.S.S. Arizona and two others – were raised from their watery graves, refitted, and set sail once again to battle the Axis powers.]

Today, however, surprise attacks of such scale almost aren’t necessary.

That's because damage to almost any nation’s military forces (much less its ecomony) can be conducted digitally, using a wide variety of cyberattack protocols.

So the questions trucking executives need to ask themselves are these: How vulnerable are my various information technology (IT) systems to hacking and other forms of digital disruption? And if they are hacked, what can be done to minimize the damage?

Then take it a step further and think about how data may become exposed during roadside inspections, as logbook checks will soon necessarily be conducted digitally as all truck operators (with a few exceptions) will be required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs)

Taking that a step further, ask this question: Are government regulators even ready to handle this soon-to-be massive tsunami of data?

If a new survey conducted by data security firm HyTrust Inc. is any guide, though, they aren’t.

The firm polled 59 government and military organizations and found that nearly 20% of those respondents do not implement data security or encryption solutions in the “public cloud,” while nearly 29% don’t use the public cloud at all.

(Hint: It’ll be hard to retrieve ELD data if you don’t use cloud computing of some type.)

Things aren’t much better where the private sector is concerned, according to a separate poll conducted by Tripwire, Inc., and Dimensional Research of over 500 IT security professionals.

According to Tripwire’s 2016 SANS Incident Response Survey, only one in four respondents said their organizations have the technology needed to effectively detect and respond to a serious data breach. In addition, 39% of respondents said that, after statistics are collected, it takes their security teams days or weeks to correlate the data and security alerts from their security tools.

On top of that, some 65% of respondents believe and IT skills shortage is an impediment to incident response efforts.

Tim Erlin, senior director of IT security and risk strategy at Tripwire, stressed another important point in terms of improving cybersecurity: share more information, especially from “survivors” of data breaches.

“Information sharing is a key defensive strategy for most companies,” he explained. “In order to protect an organization effectively, it’s incredibly valuable to know how other, similar organizations are being attacked or breached.”

Kathryn Brown, president and CEO of the Internet Society – a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet into the future – recently noted that a wide range of cybersecurity issues pose a major problem going forward in terms of widening the use of the Internet for businesses and individuals alike. (That goes double for logistics and especially trucking.)

“Multiple security issues are damaging user confidence and have emerged as the existential threat to the future of the Internet. We must act now to reverse this trend,” she said.

For example, Brown pointed to the consequences of security and access challenges are in Mexico. As Internet adoption and connectivity continue to grow, with 45% of the population online, so do the number of cyber-attacks, she said.

In fact, Mexico ranks as the second country with the largest number of cyber-attacks in Latin America after Brazil, with a 40% increase in reported cyber-attacks in 2014 alone, Brown noted.

That’s something to keep in mind as the digital floodgates are poised to get flung open even wider upon trucking in the days ahead.

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