Cyber-criminals exploit IT to get at containers: TT Club

Passwords or release codes for containers from terminal facilities sought increasingly

Cyber-criminals exploit IT to get at containers: TT Club
Conference told criminals are infiltrating IT systems to target containers


Cyber-criminals are preying on shipping container codes and passwords to discover delivery instructions, an international freight insurance specialist has warned.

And the very technology used to make transport and logistics efficient was helping them.

Claims executive Mike Yarwood , of transport mutual TT Club, told delegates at TOC Europe’s recent Container Supply Chain Conference in London that carriers, ports, terminals and other transport operators were the increasing focus of computer hacking, with data and information used to focus on high value cargo and susceptible loads.

"We see incidents which at first appear to be a petty break-in at office facilities. The damage appears minimal – nothing is physically removed," Yarwood says.

"More thorough post incident investigations however reveal that the ‘thieves’ were actually installing spyware within the operator’s IT network."

Common targets are individuals’ personal devices where cyber security is less adequate. 

Hackers often make use of social networks to target operational personnel who travel extensively and truck drivers to ascertain routing and overnight parking patterns.

The type of information being sought and extracted may be release codes for containers from terminal facilities or passwords to discover delivery instructions. 

"In instances discovered to date," Yarwood says

"There has been an apparent focus on specific individual containers in attempts to track the units through the supply chain to the destination port.

"Such systematic tracking is coupled with compromising the terminal’s IT systems to gain access to, or generate release codes for specific containers. 

"Criminals are known to have targeted containers with illegal drugs in this way however such methods also have greater scope in facilitating high value cargo thefts and human trafficking."

Though the trend is coming off a low base, the TT Club believes that as invasive technology becomes more widely available and its cost falls the next generation of strategy adopted by organised criminal groups to facilitate cargo theft is emerging.

"Whilst advances in IT systems undoubtedly provide greater opportunities for carriers, transport operators and cargo handling facilities to mitigate their exposure to theft and fraud, unfortunately such increased sophistication also benefits criminals," the mutual says.

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