Air cargo ignores the risk of cyber attacks

Air cargo ignores the risk of cyber attacks

Air cargo ignores the risk of cyber attacks


THE GLOBAL WannaCry cyber attacks, which have held to ransom hundreds of thousands of computer systems across 150 countries, demonstrates how exposed businesses and government organisations are to the threat of cyber crime.

In this latest instance, the saboteurs behind the so-called ransomware demanded payments of US$300 for users to regain access and unlock their files.

As the air cargo industry undergoes its own e-transformation, cyber security should be at the top of the airfreight industry’s agenda.

WannaCry shows there is no definitive rule book for avoiding ransomware attacks, but discussions, as well as inviting cyber experts to proffer advice and tips, are starting points for tackling this major issue.

The time for staying silent has long passed. Alarmingly, general Keith Alexander, the former director of the US National Security Agency and former chief of the Central Security Service, predicts there are likely to be more major global cyber attacks of this kind, this year.

In May, last year, revealed just how vulnerable businesses are to  cyber crime and some of the air cargo markets that do not even have national cyber crime laws in place. Below, we have reproduced and updated Thelma Etim‘s story on the subject . .


WHILST the benefits of customers being able to book, keep track and monitor the transit of their cargo shipments around the world are numerous, the technology utilised to achieve this visibility and transparency is increasingly open to abuse by cyber criminals, writes Thelma Etim.

Even though all air cargo businesses dread the prospect of having their network databases breached, few are prepared to volunteer any views on the air cargo logistics supply chain community’s ability to combat this growing worldwide threat.

Analysts assert the primary reason why cyber attacks are markedly under-reported – aside from businesses having to admit to the loss of information and revenue following such infiltration – is largely due the prospect of reputational damage.

.. ‘big financial losses’ reportedly linked to cyber attacks ..

Companies worry that any degradation of their brand will be irrecoverable if clients perceive them as being unable to safeguard their information, as well as their property.

This notion is underscored by findings from the PriceWaterhouseCooper’s (PwC) Global Economic Crime Survey 2016, which discovered that “despite big financial losses reported linked to cyber crime, respondents reported the greatest impact to their organisations coming from damage to their reputation and legal, investment and enforcement costs.”

The study, based on interviews with more than 6000 participants across 115 countries, found cyber crime affected almost a third (32 per cent) of respondents – “the highest ever level in PwC’s biennial survey of global economic crime.”

What is more disturbing is the that survey uncovered just how unprepared global businesses are for potential cyber attacks. Unbelievably, just 37 per cent of respondents reported having a fully operational incident response plan in place, almost a third had no plan at all, 14 per cent were not even intending to implement one, whilst 45 per cent did not believe their local law enforcement agencies possess the required skills and resources to combat cybercrime, the study reveals.

Andrew Gordon, global leader of forensic services at PwC, warns too few companies are adapting their risk assessments and control frameworks fast enough. “Action on economic crime is not the responsibility of one person or team, it must be embedded within an organisation’s culture.”

It is incredulous that, in the midst of rapid technological advancement, disruption and such stark warnings, a long list of nations across the world still have no cyber attacks legislation in place, according to data gathered by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

How many air cargo companies are even aware of these dangers?

Here is a list of countries with no cyber crime laws:




Papua New Guinea






Democratic Republic of Congo

Central African Republic












Republic of Congo







Guinea Bissau

Sierra Leone

Equatorial Guinea






Burkina Faso