Saturday 18th Nov 2017 - Logistics Manager

Is there a spy in your supply chain?

I am a regular recipient of emails from someone in West Africa who wants to make me rich – all I have to do is provide a little assistance and my bank account details.

Apparently, it’s known as a 419 scam after the relevant article of the Nigerian criminal code, and so far at least it has been the limit of my exposure to cyber-crime.

But cyber-criminals are increasingly targeting supply chain operations, according to Mike Yarwood, the TT Club’s insurance specialist.

Speaking at the recent TOC Europe conference in London, Yarwood highlighted the danger to carriers, ports, terminals, and other transport operators.

“We see incidents which at first appear to be a petty break-in at office facilities. The damage appears minimal – nothing is physically removed,” he said. “More thorough post incident investigations however reveal that the ‘thieves’ were actually installing spyware within the operator’s IT network.”

Not surprisingly, it’s high value cargo and susceptible loads that are most commonly targeted.

Most large companies have experts and sophisticated systems to protect their networks. But, says Yarwood, the hackers often target individual’s personal devices where cyber security is less adequate.

And he highlighted attempts to track containers through the supply chain and obtain release codes. Such activity could relate to illegal drugs, high-value cargo thefts and human trafficking.

There is a level of sophistication to this that might surprise many people. And it is only going to get more sophisticated. The situation is complicated by the growth of Bring Your Own Device – enabling employees to access company information on their own mobile phones / tablets etc.

Perhaps it’s time to make sure that you haven’t got a spy in your supply chain.