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Supply Chain Security is Being Challenged from All Sides

According to the Supply Chain Management Review, supply chain cyber security threats continue to haunt those responsible for supply chain inventory management. Both the U.S. and Canada have recently issued advisories on “ransomware” attacks. These events permit hackers to capture critical data and then deny its rightful owner access to it unless a large ransom is paid. Ransomware, although not exclusively a supply chain security issue, uses special encryption to lock up targeted data, making access to it impossible unless the hackers provide a release key. The malware is usually spread via phishing emails or infected websites. All it takes is one infected computer to put a company’s entire network at risk. Originally, ransomware was heavily concentrated in Eastern Europe/Russia, areas usually considered to be its birthplace. But ransomware is widespread today. All businesses are at risk. Not all malware can be prevented, but an aggressive audit program to identify cyber crime and system vulnerabilities, as well as specific plans to deal with an event, need to be in place.

Not all supply chain security threats are as sophisticated or complicated as ransomware. In general, food is one of the most commonly stolen cargo theft items. In 2015, Cargo Net reported $175 million in cargo was stolen and 28% was comprised of food and beverage items.

South Florida is becoming a U.S. hot spot for cargo theft and stolen seafood is leading the way. Recently, a Florida shipper turned over 800 cases of shrimp to a trucker for delivery. The trucker claimed his refrigerated truck broke down so he trashed the spoiled shipment in a dumpster. When alerted, Miami-Dade’s cargo theft task force tracked down the location of the shrimp—not in the dumpster, but to where it was sold by the trucker for $32,000. The value of the shrimp was $138,000. The task force also recovered a shipment of stolen tuna from central Florida after video surveillance showed two men in the back of a rental truck discussing its sale.

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According to Miami-Dade police, lobster and other seafood is easy to fence in Florida. Miami is one of the top places in the United States where stolen items are brought to be sold. One of the primary risks involving stolen seafood is safety concerns. Seafood thieves often do not take precautionary measures to maintain proper temperature of their stolen cargo. The public often ends up eating potentially contaminated seafood assuming it’s totally safe. That may not be the case.

According to authorities, direct thefts and simple hijackings are becoming less common. Today, cargo thieves often read message boards announcing needed cargo delivery. The thieves will then steal a legitimate trucking company’s identity in order to drive off with their product. Probably better for perishable food safety, but no less costly to the industry.

Aswe have seen, supply chain security issues are ever evolving and, in some cases, becoming more sophisticated. In today’s world, it’s not good enough to simply rely on physical security procedures and processes to protect cargo. It also takes an alert and sophisticated IT team to be aware of cyber crime threats aimed at the supply chain and to have protocols in place to detect it and minimize the impact should it occur.

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