Small Carriers Becoming A Target For Cyber Crime And Freight Theft


Freight theft is by no means a new issue facing drivers and carriers. Savvy and safety-conscious drivers have been able to mitigate their risk just by following standard best practices; parking in well-lit areas and a good strong lock have kept more than a few crimes of opportunity at bay. While there may still be random cargo thefts where a thief takes a rig, empties its contents and abandons the truck, some criminals are getting more high-tech.

Jarad Carleton, the principal consultant for information and communication technology practice at Frost & Sullivan is warning that cargo thieves have taken to hacking in to a fleet’s electronic network to gather information on what the most valuable cargo is, where it’s headed, and most importantly where it’s being picked up.

Thieves can use this information to perform false pickups where they pose as the driver who is actually supposed to be picking up the freight, accept the load, and then just drive off with it. By the time the real driver shows up, it’s too late and the thief and cargo are long gone.  

“The ability to know where a specific shipment is – especially for high value goods like electronics – makes it easier to steal and more profitable to steal than randomly taking a tractor-trailer on the street,” Carleton noted in an interview with Fleetowner.

Large carriers generally have more secure online systems to prevent just such an attack, so these high-tech cargo thieves tend to target smaller less security-minded carriers.

Even once a thief is at the pick-up location, even if he knows everything about the cargo including where and when it’s being shipped, it can be difficult to fool the shipper. One thing that helps thieves pull off the scheme is if the shipper and carrier have a healthy relationship. If a carrier has hauled hundreds of loads for a shipper in the past, the shipper is more likely to forgive some misplaced paperwork than if this is the first load a carrier has hauled for them. Ironically, it’s the trust that’s been built up that makes things so much easier for the thief.

A report published by RSA titled Taking Charge of Security in a Hyperconnected World listed several common problems that contribute to cyber security breaches.

  • Neglecting “security hygiene”– In forensic evaluations following security attacks, missed software updates frequently surface as exploited vulnerabilities.
  • Relying exclusively on traditional threat prevention and detection tools– Most security teams still wait for signature-based detection tools to identify problems rather than looking for more subtle indicators of compromise on their own, even though traditional firewalls, antivirus scanners and intrusion detection systems (IDS) cannot discover the truly serious problems.
  • Mistaking compliance for good security– Most compliance mandates reflect best practices that should be interpreted as minimum standards, not sufficient levels, of security.
  • Inadequate user training– Many companies don’t invest enough time and resources in user training, even though users today are the first line of defense against many cyberattacks.

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Source: fleetowner

Image Source: northbridge

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12 comments. Add a comment.

  1. royce says

    Another thing that would make them targets are all the drivers truck and otherwise that get scr#wed over by trucking companies that have turn over rates in the 140th percentile. Some how no matter how hard I try I just cannot feel sympathy or pity for corporate types. Oh and I have tried, how I have tried but nope it just isnt there. Besides they are all almost always arranged by Trucking company CEO’s anyway. Who else is gonna have enough information to get er done?

  2. curtis says

    Having a DIY camera clamped to my back door requires me to remove it at the receiver so, I set it on the floor & watched the forktruck empty the trailer, pretty cool.

  3. Gordon A says

    Don’t believe for one minute because you pull a flat bed or any other open deck trailer your load is not at risk.
    Flatbeds are not exempt from theft. . Steel, aluminum copper, brass is still in demand and scrap prices are high enough for some to go after it. The trailer is easy enough to sell after the fact. Some products hauled on open deck equipment are expensive enough to warrant some thieves to go after it. Generators, Air compressors, Portable Illuminations lights and like items.
    All loads, on all types of trailers are at risk. Every driver should take notice and use security standards and awareness. Due diligence.
    It may be your wallet they will settle for. Cash, credit cards. You have all kinds of identification in your wallet or purse. Your personal security is also at stake.

  4. says

    Man I picked up loads worth more then I would make in a lifetime. Shipper did not ask for anything. Just load it and go, but that was before PC’s everything was done over a phone. From Gun Powder to Rockets never an issue. But these days all that has changed and not for good.
    Did pick up a load of Old money one time, and that load I did fear for my life. Had a escort with M-16’s front and back. Along with one in the sleeper and pass seat. Took 14 hours to haul that load one stop and that was it. Burned 43,000 lbs of paper money. Now that load scared me and with armed guards, you think everyone knows this is a load to steal.

  5. Frank A says

    Big or small, fleets try whatever they can to introduce methods on reducing cargo theft. Train drivers, review on-site security, develop tip lines, install camera’s etc…… And then what do they do….they have drivers go to a truck stop to fax and receive paperwork.
    It’s beyond me how these companies continually hand over important, sensitive paperwork to someone behind the counter. For the most part these clerks are hardworking, trustworthy people but don’t be fooled that there are more than a few that are selling this information. Fleets have done background checks on drivers but who makes sure the stranger behind the counter is upstanding.
    There’s an easy solution…try not to use truck stops to fax paperwork. Do homework and get something for the cab.

  6. Sue G says

    I know of several certain Asian O/O’s from California who set themselves up for a robbery then collect insurance. Shystie buggers! I would like to report them but don’t know who to report to.

  7. Dan j says

    Best practice for security is what I have always gone by. If it is a valuable load, it it’s locked with a heavy duty lock, I back up against a concrete barrier high enough to keep doors from being propped open, park in areas where I know the area well, lastly, I don’t brag to any drivers about what I am pulling (including company drivers). It just comes down to common sense and being safe by not making yourself a target on the road.

  8. LilKW says

    I recommend waiting for the driver to arrive at the location, check in to his dispatch for a randomly selected PO number. Then the dispatcher calls the company with the PO number before the load is released to the truck. The company has all info.. I bring photo ID, PO number and pick up number when I check in at guardshack before I even dock my trailer. A thief can hack into a computer for a PO number, but not the specific PO number needed to get the load. We use dummy PO numbers over computers. A thief would hang himself out to dry if he tried to pick up our loads.

  9. ploof says

    This is why every driver needs to be announced by id and photo by the driver’s company, via email, before they arrive at the shipper. It’s also a good idea to have a camera ready for anything.

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