The logistics industry is experiencing a technological renaissance. Data is the main driving force behind successful logistics companies today, and with the increased need for instant data exchange also comes an increased demand for transparency, mobility, analytics, and cloud solutions.

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However, with the influx of opportunity also comes the need for increased data security. With all of this new technology adding speed to an already fast-paced industry, all logistics companies are faced with the immediate need for a complete reassessment of how they keep their customers and their own sensitive data secure. Data vulnerability increases the risk of security threats that could very well cause significant damage to your logistics company’s reputation.

A data breach impacts multiple areas of a logistics organization: it has real legal consequences, it’s detrimental to day-to-day business operations, plus it can be a real PR nightmare. Data privacy and security can become a key competitive differentiator, meaning logistics companies that fail to implement data security strategies risk falling behind their competitors.

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    An Increased Need for Data Security: How We Got Here

    The adoption of mobile logistics technology, such as phones, laptops, and tablets, has created amazing opportunities both inside and outside the warehouse. This technological mobility, paired with mobile workstations and best-of-breed WMS/TMS solutions, has created a transparent and real-time view of minute-to-minute processes across an entire logistics operation. RFID, mobile barcode scanners, smart printers, and other mobile device solutions allow workers to be more effective and accurate. The instantaneous exchange of information related to order processing, picking, and shipping has revolutionized the industry.

    Wireless connectivity has enabled cross-company communication between the office and the warehouse, drivers on the road connecting via 3G/4G LTE, executives, and sales personnel connecting from their smartphones—all of this information exchange must happen over secured and protected channels. As consumers and business partners increasingly expect to have access to more (and more real-time) information, logistics companies must be able to share the right and relevant amount of information with the right people.

    But how do we handle this increasingly massive cascade of data continuously flowing in and out of an organization? In this new technological landscape, the bulk of the responsibility for protecting sensitive data lies upon the businesses themselves—so implementing data security measures is a must.

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    Top logistics companies stay afloat because they are quick to implement strategies for better network and data security. Consider the following industry best practices—is your logistics enterprise covered?

    Network Security: Firewalls act as a filter between your company’s network and your internet service provider (ISP), as they work to inspect all traffic going in and out of your organization—and they’re just one component of strong network security. To be adequately protected, both wireless and wired networks require (at minimum) properly installed and configured firewalls, so bringing on a certified network engineer to set up your network security is highly recommended.

    Wireless Security: Wireless data is transferred in waves that naturally want to extend beyond the point of physical boundaries, such as warehouse walls—so you must ensure your wireless access points are properly secured. Wireless security protocols (such as WPA and/or WPA2) must be configured to encrypt and protect data in transit, and wireless passwords should be changed at least every three months.

    Malware Protection and Prevention: Malware comes in many forms (including viruses and spyware) and is by far the most common method hackers use to steal your information and penetrate your systems. The first important step towards malware protection is to ensure all users are assigned proper permissions. (For example, your users should never have administrator passwords or permissions.) Next, ensure every computer in your network has an effective antivirus solution configured to automatically download the latest updates. In addition, your IT team should have a regular monthly schedule for installing the latest operating system security updates to ensure recent vulnerabilities are corrected at the operating system level.

    User Training: Train all employees to be aware of the most basic and common techniques hackers use to gain access to (and steal) sensitive company information. This includes but is not limited to refraining from opening email attachments from unknown sources, refraining from clicking on suspicious email attachments or links, and refraining from installing unfamiliar software.

    Access Controls: Authentication, authorization, and accountability (AAA) is one of the most important security frameworks in the system. It guarantees that: 1.) All users are limited to the minimum/required level of access needed to do their jobs; 2.) All users are held accountable for their actions because all actions are tracked in system logs. A large component of effective AAA is implementing strong username and password policies across all computers, including mobile devices. (For example, users should be required to change their passwords at least every 90 days.)

    …and this is just a starting point. This evolving logistics technology landscape absolutely requires logistics companies to be ever-flexible and prepared for any scenario. Implementing an end-to-end network security strategy that ensures secure data exchange is crucial for any logistics company interested in success, business growth, and increasing customer confidence in their execution.

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