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International Forwarding Association Blog » European Logistics » Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities in Logistics

Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities in Logistics

The supply chain within the logistics sector faces significant challenges due to cybersecurity threats. These threats include exploiting GPS systems, conducting cyber espionage, and executing sabotage operations against goods in transit, all of which can lead to financial losses and damage to reputation.


Exploiting GPS Systems

Attackers can exploit GPS systems in a variety of malicious ways. First, they can change GPS coordinates to reroute trucks to locations where cargo can be easily stolen, including remote parking lots or unmonitored warehouses. Second, they can redirect shipments to incorrect destinations to disrupt delivery schedules. Third, they can install ransomware that locks companies out of their tracking and management systems. Then, they would demand hefty ransoms for the restoration of access, during which time the movement of all goods comes to a standstill.


Cyber Espionage

Cyber espionage represents a sophisticated threat where attackers infiltrate networks to steal proprietary data. Criminals typically deploy advanced malware or utilize phishing schemes to gain initial access. Once inside the network, they can access different parts to find shipment details like routes, delivery times, and security measures, which allow them to plan their interceptions.

Additionally, by gaining access to a company’s strategic plans, attackers can learn about new service expansions like automated customer service portals or encrypted communication channels for high-value cargo clients. With these insights into new service offerings, they can plan sophisticated disruptions. For instance, attackers could overload automated customer service portals with bot-generated inquiries. This would result in system overloads and deny real clients access to necessary support. For encrypted communication channels, attackers may send spoofed messages to high-value-cargo clients that appear official. Clients deceived by these might inadvertently direct valuable shipments to incorrect locations or unauthorized recipients, resulting in lost or compromised cargo.


Sabotage during Transit

Attackers often use insider knowledge sourced from disgruntled employees to plan sabotage operations against goods in transit. They usually target items such as foodstuffs and electronics due to their heightened vulnerability during transportation.

Foodstuffs are vulnerable because they require specific conditions such as refrigeration transport and timely delivery to remain fresh and safe for consumption. Attackers can exploit these needs by disrupting cooling systems or delaying transport, which leads to spoilage. Additionally, they may introduce chemicals or biological agents that rapidly spoil food such as ethylene-producing compounds which accelerate ripening.

For electronics, their vulnerability stems from their sensitivity to extreme conditions that damage their functionality. Attackers take advantage of this by exposing these items to excessive moisture or extreme temperatures, which can corrode components or melt delicate circuitry.

In addition, electronics are sensitive to physical shocks that can damage them. Attackers can use devices that generate magnetic fields, which disrupt storage media and erase data. They might also employ ultrasonic waves, which subtly dislodge internal components or create micro-fractures in soldering, which leads to long-term failures. Lastly, attackers can deploy devices that create sudden spikes in electrical current, which fry circuits and render electronics inoperable.