Four Tips to Strengthen Cybersecurity

Four Tips to Strengthen Cybersecurity

Supply chain problems continue to dominate headlines across the globe. In response, companies seek ways to increase visibility to help build more resilient supply chains. However, increasing the pace of digital transformation opens up an array of vulnerabilities that cybercriminals actively take advantage of. Shoring up cyber defenses is critical for logistics providers and shippers in particular, where a breach can have significant consequences.

Digitizing the supply chain increases reliance on software solutions that connect the ecosystem, which widens the surface that cybercriminals can attack. This problem compounds as organizations ensure the security of their own systems and that every provider across the supply chain has taken appropriate steps to strengthen defenses.

Ocean shipping has fallen victim to several high-profile attacks, from the Mediterranean Shipping Company suffering a malware-based breach to a ransomware attack on Maersk. These incidents affected customers as systems went offline, and Maersk saw a material impact on its revenue and reputation.

In addition, the consequences of a breach in the shipping industry extends from the digital into the physical world. Carriers own a variety of heavy assets with unique vulnerabilities and risks. A network breach can create liability and safety concerns, such as disabling a ship’s navigation systems. Even worse is the potential for a bad actor to take over a vessel’s autopilot system and cause deliberate damage or run the ship aground. Based on this potential for wide-scale disruption, the shipping industry must increase its cyber defenses as it accelerates the pace of digital transformation. Below are four recommendations to consider.

1. Audit the entire supply chain. The SolarWinds breach in 2020 was a software supply chain attack. Supply chain companies need to remember to evaluate their software supply chain. Organizations must review the security of every vendor. The NIST’s Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management framework offers a helpful guide to tackle this step.

2. Embrace a zero trust mindset. As supply chains become increasingly connected, defined security perimeters no longer exist. Although businesses face this issue with a mix of work modes, when remote workers are ocean freight vessels and trucks, they must secure every system appropriately with mandatory authentication steps.

3. Remain vigilant on security basics. Internal firewalls, endpoint detection, and password screening are security fundamentals that significantly reduce the risk of a cyber attack. Steps such as strengthening user passwords and introducing more robust authentication systems, including multifactor authentication, are basics that organizations must prioritize.

Organizations also need to prioritize routine tasks that include patches and updates; otherwise, cybercriminals may exploit these weaknesses.

4. Undertake training and disaster planning. As hackers increasingly deploy creative tactics, it is essential to educate employees so they don’t fall for these tricks. In addition, disaster scenario planning spanning digital and physical is crucial. Given the potential operational implications, workers need training both on land and at sea to ensure organizations prepare for every eventuality.

As the shipping industry accelerates digital transformation to increase visibility and build more resilient supply chains, it must prioritize cybersecurity. Otherwise, the infusion of technology could result in a deluge of new problems.