Fleet Management

Under Lock and Key: Protecting Your Data

January 2010, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Diana Britton, Managing Editor

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You probably anticipate problems such as missing paperwork, a driver getting lost, or an unexpected breakdown. But have you thought about the possibility of losing your data to terrorists, extremists,
These days, almost every trucking company relies on data. Is yours safe?
These days, almost every trucking company relies on data. Is yours safe?
criminals, natural disasters, a competitor or a disgruntled employee?

Data is becoming second nature to the trucking industry, with automation and number-crunching becoming more common in almost every corner of a fleet's operation. "The amount of data roving the world is increasing," says Tim Matthews, senior director of product marketing for PGP Corp., which provides e-mail and data encryption software.

This data is valuable, not only to your company, but also to your customers. "The bottom line is that data has value, whether that's personal information or corporate information," says Mike Spinney, senior privacy analyst at the Ponemon Institute, which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy. According to the institute's research, the price that accompanies losing a laptop is just short of $50,000.

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"This is more than just an electronic device," Spinney explains. "This is a storage container for high-value information."

If your company doesn't take steps to protect itself from losing this data or having it fall into the wrong hands, it leaves itself at risk of losing valuable customers and money, going out of business if there's so much data lost that it can't get things back up and running, lawsuits and audits, and even national security disasters.

Celadon's story

Indianapolis-based Celadon Trucking Services implemented a disaster recovery program through SafeData. As a large public company, Celadon wanted to ensure its shareholders that business could continue to operate in the event of a disaster.

According to Mike Gabbei, chief information officer of Celadon, the company was looking at housing a redundant system, or a backup system, themselves. But after considering the infrastructure, capital costs, manpower and air conditioning systems that would have to go into it, the company decided that it would be cheaper to outsource the task.

The company came on board with SafeData's high availability service, which provides a switchable "mirror" of the company's data and applications, guaranteeing continuity in two hours or less. SafeData's data center acts almost like one of Celadon's outlying facilities, as it houses all of the data Celadon needs to operate.

"If we did not have a redundant system in place, we would go out of business," in the case of a disaster, Gabbei says. "Hopefully, we'll never have to use it."

The critical processes that Celadon needs to have up and running includes the ability to take orders and put orders in the system; communicate with the drivers on where to pick up and deliver freight; and the visibility of trucks, Gabbei says.

"Data means so much to the customer that they have to have visibility on where the freight is," Gabbei says.

Data downtime

One of the benefits of having a disaster recovery system in place is a reduction in downtime - not of trucks, but of a company's operations. Because of the size of Celadon and the high number of transactions it goes through, it required SafeData's high availability service, which can have them back online in a matter of minutes, says Peter Briggs, president of SafeData.

According to Briggs, a large company can shell out an average of $100,000 for every hour of downtime in the case of a failure. It also can lead to loss of customers, who might switch to a competitor.

With an off-site data center, the company can access their system no matter what happens. "These trucks can keep rolling; these orders can be taken," Briggs says.

It doesn't take a natural disaster or a fire for backup systems to come into play. A&R Transport, a Chicago-based trucking company that specializes in bulk dry plastic transport, uses UltraBac's backup and disaster recovery software. While the company has not experienced any major catastrophes, it has seen an improvement in downtime.

"About two years ago our core database server had a hardware issue where it kept rebooting itself intermittently for no apparent reason," says Tim Bowles, network administrator for A&R.

After losing 24 hours trying to resolve the issue, A&R decided to restore the server from the last good image backup using UBDR Gold. The new server they had available was not an exact hardware match, so UltraBac Software technical support guided A&R through the steps of how to do a repair installation of the OS to support the new hardware. "We were back up and running in only a couple of hours."

A data breach

Trucking companies are also vulnerable to a data breach - secure information falling into the wrong hands. This could be a disgruntled employee, a competitor, a criminal, or anyone who wishes to exploit this critical information.

Because of the nature of the trucking industry, data is constantly on the move, and this puts the data even more at risk. "When data is most vulnerable is when it's in transit," Spinney says. When data is being transmitted or uploaded - from the truck to the back office, for example - this communication can be intercepted.

Spinney says data breaches are usually due to employee negligence. The incident may not necessarily be malicious, and most likely could have been prevented. He suggests implementing a low-cost security strategy, which involves training employees and promoting awareness of the value of the information to the customers and the company. You don't have to spend millions to address the issue, but creating a basic awareness among employees of the types of information and the value of it will make employees more vigilant.

Another method of protection against a data breach is data leak protection software, which prevents information from getting out of the company, Spinney says. For example, if a company wants to e-mail out a file with protected information, the software either won't allow the message to go out or it will prompt the sender to confirm.

Encryption, another way of protecting vital information, is a means of scrambling information, so that only those with a decryption code has authorization to read it. PGP Corp. offers encryption solutions that protect data from the thumb drive all the way up to the main frame. This includes securing laptops, mobile phones and e-mail.

PGP's Matthews points out that these days, employees often use their own hardware, such as laptop computers and smart phones. This hardware travels with them around the country. So not only is the amount of data increasing, but also the number of devices that need to be covered.

A data breach could result in business losses and fines, he adds. When a data breach occurs, a company has to get almost everyone involved, including lawyers, public relations professionals, IT personnel, risk managers and auditors. Matthews likens it to "an unscheduled audit in the middle of normal operations."

Intentional electromagnetic interference

Another threat to data security is intentional electromagnetic interference, which can occur when devices and systems that run on electromagnetic energy are zapped. According to Gale Nordling, president and CEO of Emprimus, which offers solutions to protect against IEMI, devices have been perfected to corrupt and damage critical data systems. He says universities are teaching how to build such interference technology, and that it's widely available on the Internet. "It's available and out there for everyone for good or bad purposes," he says.

While this might sound like a sci-fi flick, IEMI is a real threat, and it could render your company useless if someone were to corrupt the system. Unlike a data breach or a natural disaster, this threat simply fries the electronics, and the data is gone forever. In addition, IEMI leaves no f

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