May 2017 | Commentary | Checking In

Looking Beyond Your Desktop

Tags: Logistics I.T., Security, Logistics, Supply Chain

Keith Biondo is the publisher of Inbound Logistics magazine.

The latest Ransomware attack lays bare hidden risks in your manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain network. You can protect against the ever-evolving threat of Bitcoin pirates by looking deeper into your operations.

The attack is introduced into networks with Spear Fishing emails. Once activated, the malware locks and ecrypts your files, and files across all infected computers on your network. The only way to get them back is to pay $300 in Bitcoin and hope the bad guys actually deliver the unlock (sometimes they don't). If your company is affected/infected, you have three choices, according to the FBI: revert to backup systems (if you have them done regularly), contact a security professional (many say this type of attack is not reversible), or pay the ransom. Your desktop may be protected because those computers are usually newer and have updated security patches.

Look Deeper

Operating systems most at risk are Windows XP, Vista, Windows 8, Windows Server 2003 and 2008. Experts agree, however, that no OS platform is completely safe because bad guys go where the money is.

Look one level deep, however, and you may find that you probably aren't protected. Some companies caught off guard—including Nissan, Renault, FedEx, Deutsche Bahn Rail, LATAM Air, and Telephonica Spain—have caused global supply chain disruptions for customers.

The Nissan case was particularly telling. Located in North East England, the Nissan Motor Manufacturing factory adjoins the UK Nissan Distribution Centre. It houses personnel, production control, engineering, finance, purchasing, logistics and information systems departments, and a number of on-site suppliers feed the production lines. That's a lot of interconnected computers. The facility typically produces more than 400,000 vehicles annually, but the WeCry attack knocked the plant down for more than a day.

Lesson? Look deeper into your manufacturing operating systems, manufacturing execution systems, and manufacturing operations management software applications, which sometimes rely on simpler devices running variants of older operating systems. How much did that Nissan shutdown cost? A lot more than 300 Bitcoins, that's for certain.

It's time to do a comprehensive enterprise security audit. Look past your desktop or set up a Bitcoin account—right now.