Technological improvement is necessary to continue to develop, this is true whether we are discussing the survival of our species or the survival of businesses. Businesses are demanded to change with the times and adopt new technologies within their respected industry to stay competitive within the market. Consider it a Darwinian survival of the fittest type of dynamic. In the current day and age, we live in, businesses have become increasingly more reliant on technology to operate, whether that be through email communication, software, or their website.
A new threat has reared its ugly head in the last couple of years, known as “ransomware”. Ransomware is defined as a type of malicious software that is designed to block access to a computer system until whatever ransom money they ask for is paid. The most prevalent ransomware impacting the transportation industry is a malware strain known as NotPetya. The way the program works is straightforward, it operates like a typical phishing scheme. Wherein an email containing a link is sent and all it takes for the perpetrator to initiate the attack is for one employee to click the link that will enable NotPetya to execute its function. The malicious malware will then allow the perpetrator to lock access to a firm’s data or all use of computers and servers connected to that network, all the while demanding money in order to stop the attack, hence the term “ransomware”.
The first time NotPetya was able to demonstrate its capabilities was in 2017, on a large Danish transportation logistics conglomerate known as Maersk. Maersk’s IT systems were disabled and lost operational controls across the board, particularly with regards to its US operations. The flatbed shipping company, with offices in 130 countries and roughly 90,000 employees, were forced to take down its IT systems for 10 days. Maersk had to reinstall 4,000 servers, 45,000 PCs, and 2,500 applications. This attack was a debilitating blow to the company who anticipated the losses to be about 300 million dollars over the course of ten days. Luckily the company was able to continue 80% of its operations while they recovered their systems, with only a 20% dip in volume for the flatbed transportation company.
As recent as July 27th, a Shanghai-based shipping company known as Cosco experienced a ransomware attack. The situation doesn’t currently appear to be as severe as the situation that Maersk faced last year. Cosco’s Terminal at the Port of Long Beach experienced the brunt of the cyberattack. The Shanghai shipping company has had issues with its email and telephone services, and also had to take its American website offline. Cosco stated that its fleet was operating normally and that its main business operations were stable. Despite the company regaining control in five days, the company is certain to have experienced losses. Losses that will not be known until the company posts its statements from the fiscal quarter. California trucking company have been impacted by the attack as the Port’s operations in Long Beach have experienced a slow down while the company deals with damage control.
Flatbed trucking companies are being forced to take these malware threats seriously. A smaller flatbed truck company has more exposure to risk than a larger company because they could be crippled by an attack. Transportation companies must invest into IT and cybersecurity to reduce the chances of an attack like this debilitating their business operations. Educating employees on these kinds of attack and what to look out for will be integral for combatting this problem.