Safety & Compliance

Protecting Data Is Key to Good Business

Understanding what data your company has is just as important as protecting it in the information age.

November 2014, TruckingInfo.com - Department

by Steven Martinez, Web Editor - Also by this author

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Technology comes with many benefits, as well as some vulnerabilities.
Technology comes with many benefits, as well as some vulnerabilities.

The future can be a wonderful thing — and it’s here. The smartphone in your pocket has more computer power than all of NASA in 1969. The amount of real-time data you can access about your trucks, drivers and customers is mind-boggling.

Unfortunately, with that commonality and integration comes a common threat.

HNI, a risk management company, recently held an online seminar focusing on cyber risks to transportation companies. Kevin Zinter, senior vice president of the insurance company AmWins, pointed out the growing amount of information a company stores and who has access to it.

“With trucking firms and transportation firms there’s a lot of employment information on their own employees, prospective hires, vendors, customers,” said Zinter. “There’s health information, financial, identity — but beyond your four walls, it’s the sharing of that confidential information and what they’re doing with it.”

Whether it’s financial information from customers or the social security numbers of employees, valuable data is being stored all the time. Not only does it paint a target on a business’ computer system, but in many cases it makes fleets liable for breaches of that data. One of the best ways to reduce your risk is to understand just how much information a company has.

“How many records do you hold?” asked Zinter during the webinar. “Sometimes the numbers are hard to figure out, but it’s a good thing to understand.”

Along with stored records within a company, the sharing of that data can also be a risk. Zinter pointed out that a lot of transportation firms use logistics providers and freight brokers and it’s crucial to know if they will safeguard your data.

“It’s important to look at your contracts and understand who has your information,” he said.

The methods hackers use can vary in complexity and scale. In the case of a large company like Target, which was recently the victim of breach, it took a complicated and concerted effort. But even smaller companies make for enticing targets.

Last year, a transportation company called CorporateCarOnline was hacked and the credit card information of 850,000 customers was compromised. The data was stored in plain text, making the information as easy to parse as a spreadsheet.

One of the best ways to add security to your data is to encrypt it, which scrambles data with a unique code that would be difficult to decipher without more advanced techniques and time. Even if a hacker can access your files, they are useless as the information is unreadable. Not only is it a more secure practice, you’re less likely to be liable for damages to those affected when the proper measures are in place.

“Are your laptops and mobiledevices encrypted?” asked Zinter. “If they are and that data is lost, in some states you wouldn’t even need to do a notification.”

For businesses looking to ensure security, there are third-party risk management service providers who will analyze your company’s data and put in place the proper security measures.

The most vulnerable company is the one that assumes it’s safe, or worse, the company that thinks it has nothing to protect. It’s important to remember that a security breach doesn’t just mean liability for damages; it could also mean a loss of business.

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