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Transportation Encryption: Secure Trucking and Shipping [Encryption Digest 60]

Transportation Encryption: Secure Trucking and Shipping [Encryption Digest 60]

June 4, 2021 | Alexa Hernandez

The need for secure, efficient shipping worldwide is nothing new in our daily lives, but the coronavirus pandemic has definitely bolstered the desire to have goods simply appear at our doorstep. As of April 2020, ecommerce shipments had increased by 47%, and those numbers are not going back down. Whether it’s a Nintendo switch, a luxurious new brand of coffee, or an expanded wardrobe of loungewear, at this point shopping online almost feels more normal than going into stores.

Shipping and trucking sectors both play vital roles in the mass transpiration industry. Without reliable transportation we would supply chains break down, and both consumers and companies would face devastating shortages. Different sectors of the transportation industry have found their own solutions for secure encryption strategies.

The trucking industry has fully embraced encryption for telematics, and ships are relying on the intelligent navigation systems of unmanned surface and underwater vehicles. Valuable as these breakthroughs may be, more machines means more machine identities. Machine identities must be managed and protected with the same priority as human identities, otherwise the potential cybersecurity risks will outweigh the many benefits.

Securing shipping for 11 billion tons of goods

The majority of shipping as we understand it relies on, well, ships. Ships require the ability to safely navigate the open ocean, other ships, and any other natural hazards to deliver roughly 11 billion tons of goods across the world annually. How is this possible?

A textbook written by Professor Thor I Fossen from Norwegian University of Science and Technology explains that newly found accuracy and efficacy of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). These vehicles are equipped with intelligent navigation systems and a popular software called the Marine Systems Simulator, a GitHub repository.

While these vehicles are incredibly valuable, they are also incredibly prone to security threats and gravely in need of strong cybersecurity.

"We are very much concerned with cybersecurity since autonomous vehicles can be hijacked and even used as weapons. Hence, we encrypt all sensor and control signals in the feedback control loops," Fossen commented. "This requires new type of encryption methods since there are large data streams that need to be encrypted in real time."

Weaknesses in encryption policies or management of machine identities leave companies vulnerable to harmful threats from cybercriminals that, at best, want to steal sensitive data and, at worst, wish to weaponize this technology.

Trucking industry requires end-to-end encryption for telematics

What exactly is telematics? Telematics is the fleet of different technologies used to share data between trucks and command centers. This includes everything from GPS trackers to the transmission of drivers’ habits and vehicle maintenance information. The 13 million systems (and counting) currently in use across the United States are incredibly valuable, but they do present cybersecurity risks if they are not properly managed and protected.

Large-scale projects such as mass shipping can be made easier with IoT technology, but that amount of valuable data will always be a target for criminals looking to steal and extort. Plus, the very nature of IoT technology makes it easier to exploit. Each network endpoint represents a potential entry point for bad actors.

Trucking companies are certainly encouraged to use telematics vendors that include built-in security, but this alone is not sufficient. Since the major draw of telematics is the transmission of data between vehicles, enabling end-to-end encryption is vital to secure these massive data transfers.

Telematics really can be a double-edged sword. This tool can be indispensable for trucking companies, but the vulnerability of using IoT technology without proper cybersecurity actually outweighs the benefits. Cybersecurity attacks can be financially devastating, but they are the unfortunate consequence of neglecting strong encryption strategies and leaving holes in your network. Improving IoT cybersecurity and integrating a machine identity management program will allow trucking companies to truly unlock the full potential telematics has to offer without fear of exposing themselves to security threats.

Why is encryption so vital to transpiration worldwide?

Without reliable access to mass e-commerce transportation, companies that were already pushed to the brink of ruin by the coronavirus pandemic would likely cease to exist. The ability to conduct business virtually and continue to shop online was a life raft for the vast majority of retail and e-commerce organizations in 2020, and shipping is vital to this.

As the world changes and different cybersecurity threats evolve, it is so important that all sectors of the transportation industry are able to adapt and find new solutions to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats. This is only possible with complete network visibility, and a robust machine identity management platform that encompasses every possible network access point.

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About the author

Alexa Hernandez
Alexa Hernandez

Alexa is the Web Marketing Specialist at Venafi.

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