Navigating Cyber Risks in the Logistics Industry

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Cyber Risks in the Logistics Industry
  • Are logistics and transportation easy targets for hackers?
  • Most prominent cyber risks in the logistics industry
  • Emerging cyber threats logistics companies should be aware of
  • Best practices for cybersecurity

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the shift to digital, and various industries, including logistics, have had to adapt to remain competitive and increase revenue in the ever-growing competitive landscape.

While processes used to expand revenue streams have created unparalleled efficiencies, they have also exposed various shortcomings in the industry: logistics and transportation companies are highly vulnerable to cybercrimes.

According to a recent study conducted by Hornet Security, logistics is the second-largest target for hacker groups and all sectors within the industry are affected, including:

  • Aviation
  • Logistics services (warehousing, order fulfilment, supply chain)
  • Maritime
  • Rail
  • Trucking

Not only is the impact of cyberattacks costly and disruptive, but it also has the potential to create further chaos if sensitive data is breached.

Digitisation has led to an increase in new communications and wireless channels, many of which are directly linked to logistics and transportation companies’ digital ecosystems and an easy target for hackers.

Until recently, cybercrimes were few and far between in the logistics industry; however, this has caused the industry to lag behind others where cybersecurity and the hiring of cyberdefense talent is concerned.

With other industries cultivating a security-centric culture and enhancing their defences against cybercrimes, the inadequate standards in logistics have made the industry an easy target for attackers.

According to recent data, cyberattacks happen more than once a month in the industry. Given that it takes approximately seven months to identify a breach – the damage could be severe.

In recent years, one of the most prominent breaches was a ransomware attack in May 2021, which shut down one of the United States’ largest gasoline providers, Colonial Pipeline, for a week.

Colonial Pipeline was forced to pay a $5 million ransom payment to their hackers and reported losses of $50 million following a week of downtime.

The attack underscores the need for logistics and transportation companies to ramp up their cyber defence and raise cybersecurity awareness.

Why Logistics Companies are Cyberattack Targets

Many people wonder why logistics and transportation companies are targeted by hackers, especially when compared to other organisations, such as healthcare which store sensitive information that is valuable and protected by law.

While healthcare companies are more likely to pay to have patient data returned, logistic companies are high-value targets due to the amount of money they exchange than companies of similar sizes in other industries.

As they have large amounts of cash and credit available, hackers have the opportunity to extract a higher payment if they manage to execute a successful ransomware attack.

Cybersecurity writer Jennifer Gregory notes that shipping and logistics companies may also be seen as valuable as they “hold the key to getting our world back together” – referring to the coronavirus vaccine.

If a company is responsible for transporting COVID vaccines, which governments consider highly precious, the more likely they are to receive a payout. Cyberattacks have already occurred at various stages of the vaccine chain, and with boosters now being rolled out, shipping and logistics firms will become lucrative targets for hackers.

Most Prominent Transport and Logistics Cyber Risks

The rise in cyberattacks has made it even more critical for logistics companies to keep abreast of the cyber threat landscape to understand the emerging risks and ramp up their defences.

Currently, the most prominent risks facing the cyber industry are:


Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer or database until a sum of money is paid.

Ransomware is one of the fastest-growing cyber security threats, with recent data showing that one attack took place every 11 seconds in 2021.

Attackers will infiltrate a company’s IT infrastructure and encrypt data that they deem valuable, threaten to leak that data and make it inaccessible to the business until payment is received. Besides the crippling impact on revenue, ransomware attacks can also result in significant reputational ramifications.

Companies that have not taken steps to understand their vulnerability to ransomware attacks or minimise the risk should act now.

Phishing Emails

Phishing is a scam that sees criminals impersonate organisations via email, text message, telephone or by posing as a legitimate person to trick victims into handing over sensitive information and account data such as passwords.

Once your information is obtained, cybercriminals will infiltrate your accounts, create new user credentials or install malware to steal your money or identity.

Corporate Hacking

Corporate hacking is when another company hacks into a competitor’s database to steal sensitive information or install spyware.

Freight Forwarding Fraud

Increased competition among freight companies has led to a rise in fraudulent activity, and attackers are keen to take advantage of the situation.

Freight forwarding fraud is where scammers impersonate a legitimate company to steal freight forwarding fees or steal cargo that falls into their possession. Sometimes, freight forwarding scammers are also co-victims, so it’s essential to raise awareness on tactics of deception in your company.

Remote Worker Exploits

Growth in remote working fuelled by coronavirus-induced lockdowns has created opportunities for hackers because remote workers tend to operate outside of corporate security systems.

Covid-19 has inspired cybercriminals to devise new techniques to exploit weak security systems, which is terrible for logistics and transport businesses with dispersed workforces.

Emerging Cyber Threats in the Logistics Industry

The logistics and transportation sector faces three emerging cyber threats: people and processes, technology and regulation.

Technology Cyber Threats

Cloud-based computing and local area networks have replaced traditional distress-and-safety systems. While cloud technology has created great opportunities for logistics companies, the networks are a tempting target for hackers.

It’s easy for cybercriminals to collect, integrate, track and analyse information stored in internet-connected communications. The lack of urgency to address cyber risks makes logistics and transportation companies even more vulnerable to attacks.

Regulation Cyber Threats

While commercial and operational aspects of logistics are regulated in most countries, there is not much governance over cybersecurity, perhaps because regulators struggle to agree on a set of global standards.

With this being the case, logistics and transportation company investments are not optimised to reduce risk exposure.

People and Processes

Cyber breaches often remain undetected for months because people cannot identify threats, over-rely on technology, or lack the resources and skills needed to improve detection measures.

Recent data shows that more than half of all cyberattacks can be traced back to flaws within organisational processes or employees’ lack of understanding about cybersecurity. For example, many staff members fail to notice the difference between a standard email and a phishing email, and hackers take advantage by exploiting that vulnerability.

Best Practises for Cybersecurity in Logistics

It’s essential to adopt a strategic approach when devising measures to protect against cyber threats and attacks.

Research vendors that offer smart products which can protect sensitive data shared via a cloud-based communication system and use network segmentation to isolate devices connected via the Internet of Things (IoT) to prevent widespread damage.

When it comes to supply chain security, choose vendors carefully and see if they offer any additional services such as data encryption to minimise the risk of cyberattacks. Have them complete a risk assessment so that you can identify any potential opportunities for hackers to exploit the system and formulate a response plan against a possible security breach.

It’s important to work with trusted vendors and security service providers to avoid the risk of corporate hacking or the installation of a weak security system. These companies will also possess the expertise needed to adapt to changes in the threat landscape and minimise security risk to your business, helping you promote a safe culture within your organisation.

If you think that outsourcing your order fulfilment could help your e-commerce business save time and money in 2022, it could be time to give Pointbid a call. At Pointbid, we take the time to get to know your business to ensure that we choose the right fulfilment strategy for you. From goods in, picking and packing, to timely shipping, we take care of the order fulfilment process from start to finish. If you’d like to know more, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0121 326 7368.


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