Shoring up the cyber defenses

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One ongoing challenge that tends to fly under trucking’s radar when it comes to the industry’s “worry list” regards the need to improve cyber security – and it’s an issue that’s much on the minds of many business executives, not just those in the transportation sector.

Take for example findings from the most recent quarterly Manufacturing Barometer survey compiled by global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“Cyber-security continues to be a major area of focus for industrial manufacturers,” noted Bobby Bono, U.S. industrial manufacturing leader for PwC, in regards to the firm’s findings.

“In addition to IT [information technology] investments to combat cyber and information threats, we are seeing manufacturers adapt new technologies and innovations including cloud and mobile computing, and big data and analytics,” he added.

“Those important IT investments are helping forward-looking businesses guard against disruptive technologies that are changing the manufacturing landscape while providing them with an opportunity to adjust their business models, improve their processes and find new opportunities to grow," Bono pointed out.

PwC’s recent quarterly survey discerned that 75% of U.S. industrial products manufacturers claim to have a methodology to detect the effectiveness of their organization's security programs, with 82% saying they maintain a formalized plan for reporting and responding to cyber-security events.

Yet PwC’s poll also found that only 38% indicated that their business made use of important IT innovations in the past 12 months, while 51% responded that their business had not. The two business sectors leading the way for important IT innovations were manufacturing processes (52%) and security/cyber threats (43%).

Thankfully, over the past 12 months, only a limited number (15%) of industrial manufacturers reported an increase in cyber-security events. When polled, U.S. industrial manufacturers cited hackers as the greatest cyber-security threat to their business (69%), followed by current/former employees (26%) and activists/activist organizations (7%).

I get the feeling, though, that entire issue of “cyber security” is only going to become more pronounced as more and more “personal devices” get involved in the management of business functions.

Take for example this interesting survey conducted by home security specialist ADT and software security maker McAfee released the results of a survey that takes a look at the important parallels between personal and online security.

This joint survey of over 1,000 consumers showed that more than 51% of respondents said their “personal security” became compromised through both physical and online breaches. And when asked to define “personal security,” about 77% of survey participants consider it to intertwine both physical and online security, providing further insight that our digital and physical lives have merged into one.

Some 39% of respondents added that they use “technological devices” to control their home security systems, with 34% using smartphones to do so. But alongside such “appetite” for using smart phones to manage physical security comes the realization that more security “control” is migrating to the digital sphere.

“In today’s always connected digital world, our entire lives are managed and are accessible across our devices,” stressed John Giamatteo, senior VP and general manager of McAfee’s consumer business. “As use of such advanced technologies continues, so grows our need for protection of the digital devices that control them. Data from this survey suggests that our digital and physical lives are now fully intersected.”

Giamatteo added that as technological advances enable people to control products in the home from within or from afar, the need will only increase to ensure that both physical and digital selves are strongly protected.

This “digital connection” s mirrored in the business world the way personnel control everything from warehouse climate control to truck routes all via a smart phone – a device, however, that can be hacked and compromised just like credit card numbers were at Target and Neiman Marcus late last year.

“Device proliferation has made digital security increasingly important – critical even – as our identities and personal devices are more susceptible to security breaches,” Giamatteo stressed.

Indeed, 31% of respondents to the ADT/McAfee survey said their smartphone presented the most potential for security risk and 49% stated that their computers are more vulnerable, 41% still fear losing smartphones most in a public setting.

Yet while two in three smartphone users (67%) and tablet users (65%) report that they protect their devices with a password, yet nearly half (49%) admitted to sharing their password with at least one other person, risking their personal security and all the data found on their device, he said.

Something to think about as the cyber security dangers are poised to only become more complex for the trucking business in the months and years to come.

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