The encouraging news for the transportation industry in 2013 was a reduction in the occurrence of physical break-ins and stolen trucks. However, it was also reported that cyber theft will be the preferred avenue driving cargo theft for the next decade.

Cargo theft by cyber-crime demands less physical effort and is harder to detect, catch and prosecute. In 2013 there were 101 incidents of fictitious pickups accounting for 9% of reported cargo theft. Fictitious pickup can be explained as using fake id or fictitious businesses to steal cargo. Criminals will masquerade as a legitimate carrier or use the certificate of a discontinued business that they found online.

The perpetrators take advantage of increased web-based brokerage, VOP phones, prepaid credit cards and stolen ID’s which are used for fuel purchases. Lack of face-to-face transactions and use of email communication facilitates fraudulent activity which adversely affects shippers, brokers and carriers. Thieves may hack into a fleet’s network to ascertain logistical information on valuable cargo.

Smaller carriers are often more vulnerable than larger carriers with more robust IT systems that detect and prevent electronic intrusions.

Shippers, carriers and brokers need to monitor what is trending in cargo theft and perform more due diligence at pickups – check the DOT number, the names on the truck door and the license plate.
A recent report, Taking Charge of Security in a Hyperconnected World, detailed several roadblocks to effective cyber security.

The failure to consistently update software increases vulnerability to security breaches. Relying on firewalls, antivirus programs and standard intrusion detection systems and neglecting other less obvious indicators of attack increases risk. Compliance practices that follow minimal security standards, rather than adhering to best practices may prove inadequate. Users, the first line of defense against cyber attacks are often inadequately trained.

Cargo theft is having an impact on Cargo Insurance coverage. As companies experience more loss payouts, policies are being amended to limit losses in certain situations. These include unattended trucks, high-theft incidence areas, cargos of specifically targeted goods and cases of driver collusion.

The National Cargo Theft Task Force is a joint effort of trucking companies, law enforcement agencies and insurance companies to reduce cargo theft in the US. The group is looking to improve the reporting and raise awareness so that cargo theft can be accurately measured and forcefully responded to