Improving Safety and Security Throughout the Food Supply Chain

From intentional adulteration to carrier identity theft, experts expose the risks and offer solutions.


Hall says calling the local police is a start, but typically they’re not experts in cargo theft and don’t know how to proceed with an investigation.

“They send a patrolman out to investigate: Did the thieves break in? No, they backed up to the dock and the guys in the warehouse loaded up 22 pallets of salmon onto the trailer. So it was an inside job? No, the truck driver took it. At what point during the trip did the truck driver decide to steal the load? We don’t know, he was using a fake identity. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but most local law enforcement aren’t trained to handle this sort of thing.”

Hall recommends speaking with your insurance carrier to develop a comprehensive plan for reporting and investigating cargo theft, and identity-related theft in particular. “This is not an inside job and it’s not a grab-and-dash type of theft,” he explains. “Identity theft is typically well organized and takes advantage of the way you manage your due diligence and business relationships.”

No amount of diligence can guarantee protection against cargo theft, but a few extra minutes spent validating a carrier, using a combination of technology and common sense, can help you minimize your risk.

 

Kevin Scullin is a product manager with DAT in Portland, OR.

 

When it comes to cargo theft and security, even cyber attacks present an area of growing concern. Coast Guard Commander Joseph Kramek, who spent a year as a fellow at the Brookings Institution, warned in a July 2013 policy paper entitled The Critical Infrastructure Gap: U.S. Port Facilities and Cyber Vulnerabilities, that some of the nation's biggest seaports, including Los Angeles/Long Beach; Baltimore; Houston and Beaumont in Texas; and Vicksburg, MS, are entirely unprepared for such an attack...

In his executive summary, Cmdr. Kramek stated that: “Today, U.S. port facilities rely as much upon networked computer and control systems as they do upon stevedores to ensure the flow of maritime commerce that the economy, homeland, and national security depend upon. Yet, unlike other sectors of critical infrastructure, little attention has been paid to the networked systems that undergird port operations. No cybersecurity standards have been promulgated for U.S. ports, nor has the U.S. Coast Guard, the lead federal agency for maritime security, been granted cybersecurity authorities to regulate ports or other areas of maritime critical infrastructure. In the midst of this lacuna of authority is a sobering fact: according to the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) the next terrorist attack on U.S. Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR) is just as likely to be a cyber attack as a kinetic attack.”

Indeed, Cmdr. Kramek says awareness about cyber attacks is virtually nil. He writes in the report that: “The Coast Guard’s current port security authorities empower them to enforce the physical security provisions required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)—a statute passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that was designed to protect U.S. maritime critical infrastructure against kinetic terrorist attacks.”

However, “MTSA does not contain any cybersecurity requirements, nor do any of the 13 major regulations predicated upon it. Rather, MTSA’s requirements can loosely be summed up as guns, gates, guards, and identification cards. Since the Coast Guard focuses on holding port facilities accountable for compliance with MTSA’s physical security requirements, it is no surprise that port facility owners and operators also focus on physical security and not cybersecurity.”

Not everyone agreed with his findings, including the Port of Long Beach, which told the Los Angeles Times that, “We have the latest cybersecurity technologies. We patch all of our systems on a regular basis. We continuously train our users on cybersecurity best practices.”

The Port of Baltimore went further, stating that, “In a nutshell, we feel this is a very misleading report.”

What would likely be agreed upon, however, is the level of impact a cyber attack could potentially unleash.

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