Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

A Q&A with an Omnitracs security expert

Rula Ifteiha Photo
Rula Ifteiha
Content Specialist

In today’s highly competitive environment, customer-centricity is becoming the leading mantra. Putting customer needs above all else is a powerful differentiator. But when so much of your brand’s success hinges on showing up for your customers, operational disturbances can have tremendous consequences. Unfortunately, malicious actors online know this and are more than willing to exploit your business for financial gain if given the chance.

Take the transportation industry, for example. Through tactics like phishing emails or ransomware, hackers are regularly seeking opportunities to hold sensitive driver information hostage in exchange for monetary compensation. Preventing these attacks and educating the wider community on how to stay ahead of suspicious behavior is a top priority for security professionals, like Omnitracs Chief Information Security Officer Sharon Reynolds.

In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we sat down with Reynolds to get her perspective on the issues that are top of mind for security experts within transportation and beyond. Here’s what she had to say:

What are your top recommendations when it comes to ensuring organizational cybersecurity?

It might seem simple, but the most important step is identifying the systems that are mission critical. What systems would put you out of business if they were down for a few hours? It’s never going to be more efficient or effective spreading a surface level of security across the business as it is building an ironclad foundation around the essentials.

From there, it’s all about making security more human. You wouldn’t believe how effective human fire walls are. If someone within the organization receives a note that seems off, it’s critical that they can quickly call up their IT partner or the alleged sender to confirm their identity. When baseline processes are seamless and encourage collaboration, security becomes second nature.

How do you get staff invested in being security-first?

Largely speaking, employees are on board with the idea of being secure. They want to do their jobs and ensure that sensitive information is protected and customers aren’t at risk. A common disconnect, however, is when the internal systems – whether it be the technology they are using or the standard practices – are complicated. People naturally want to reduce friction, so if the most secure option to complete a task is involved and difficult, it’s understandable that employees might tap their own outside solutions to ease that strain. That’s why shadow IT has become such a prevalent issue.

For example, consider a transportation company that offers a clunky phone system for drivers and fleet managers. A tech-savvy driver might download a consumer app that’s easier to use, but isn’t nearly as secure. That’s an open window for some hackers. An important best practice is to ensure that the most secure way to complete a task is also the easiest. If that isn’t the case, IT needs to partner with employees to understand where they’re failing to deliver and bridge the gap between the two needs.

What proactive steps can transportation companies take to prevent attacks?

A significant deterrent can be industry transparency or working together with competitors to share information and data on attacks. In many cases with these attackers, they’re casting a wide net. When you stockpile data across multiple organizations, it paints a clearer picture on how these attacks are taking place and where the vulnerabilities are. The financial services industry has done an incredible job of partnering, because they understand that protecting each other is good for business. Omnitracs continues to look across the transportation industry and deepen our relationship with partners to keep our customers secure.

Want to learn more about our cyber security initiatives? Read our blog post from last month that dives into how we’re protecting fleets through digital transformation.