The transportation industry is a critical part of the U.S. economy and as such, organizations large and small within the industry could be appealing targets to cybercriminals.
In recent years, as the industry has undergone a digital transformation, the number of vulnerabilities that bad actors can exploit has only grown.
“The more you digitize, the greater the potential for disaster,” said Debbie Ruane Sparks, executive director for the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA).
The NMFTA understands that digitization is our present and future and is leading the charge in setting digital standards while also helping the industry educate itself about cyberthreats.
As ransomware is affecting enterprise systems within the trucking industry, just like businesses of all sizes in every industry, the NMFTA is concerned that could lead to ransomware impacting trucks.
This is especially relevant as the industry has been the first adopter of many different digital technologies.
One of the most concerning cyberthreats to the industry is to assets. Ben Gardiner, association senior cybersecurity research engineer, warned that trucks could be impacted by cyberthreats through internet-connected telematics devices.
“Part of what worries us about trucks, in particular, is that the truck vehicle networks weren’t really designed to be put on the internet,” Gardiner explained. “With the introduction of the electronic logging devices (ELD) regulation, those ELDs pretty much have to be internet connected. … This means there are vehicles that have ELDs that redirect access to vehicle networks.”
With the many other challenges carriers experience on a daily basis, however, cybersecurity is often not one that most businesses want to face.
“We (as an industry) kind of just want to push it under the rug and assume we don’t need to put resources to it,” Sparks said.
The NMFTA saw the importance of bringing this information front and center. In its role of providing cybersecurity leadership, the association began sharing free, open access to materials to help educate about industry security risks and threats. This includes resources like blog posts, white papers, newsletters, videos, research projects and its upcoming complimentary conference.
“We want to make all relevant information available to cybersecurity champions and advocates in the trucking industry. Having this information will equip them with the knowledge and tools to help prevent attacks that can potentially stop operations. It will also help prepare them to be resilient coming out of a cyber event. We want these individuals to hear what is happening from their peers and others, and get engaged at our conference,” Sparks said.
Helping the trucking industry elevate businesses is not a new role for the NMFTA. It has a long history in the trucking industry of setting widely known standards and best practices, like the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) system, Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC), and Standard Point Location Code (SPLC). The NMFTA also administers the Digital LTL Council, which is in the process of implementing the eBOL standard.
The NMFTA’s upcoming Digital Solutions Conference in Houston from Oct. 22 to 25 is free to supply chain and trucking IT, maintenance and cyber professionals as well as visionary CEOs.. It is the trucking industry’s only cybersecurity conference and focuses on both asset and enterprise security. Attendees will gain perspective on how cybersecurity topics can impact not only their core systems but also the very trucks that their businesses rely on.
Two sessions Gardiner is especially excited for at the conference are one on sensor security with Ryan Gerdes, Ph.D., and one with Jeremy Daily, Ph.D., who will discuss advanced degrees for cybersecurity. With the onset of autonomous vehicles, sensor security is top-of-mind for the transportation industry, as well as advanced degrees in truck cybersecurity as the industry becomes more connected than ever.
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