It’s almost impossible to run a warehouse or distribution center without the assistance of technology and partnerships with key suppliers. While this combination comes with a host of benefits, it’s not without some security risks.
You would think cybersecurity in the warehouse would have improved with advances in systems and technology. But reports from Check Point Research (CPR) reveal that the global volume of cyberattacks increased a staggering 38% in 2022 compared to the prior year. These attacks were driven by smaller, more agile ransomware groups and hackers who focus on vulnerable systems like chat applications and other collaboration tools.
Of course, no one is suggesting that your warehouse ditch all technology solutions in favor of antiquated checklists or spreadsheets. And some security protocols can make your system feel more secure but sacrifice productivity. So, what’s the answer? Here’s why managing cyber security in your warehouse should be a priority and some cybersecurity measures your business can take.
Why Your Warehouse Needs to Focus on Cybersecurity
Most businesses know they should pay attention to security. But not every business owner recognizes just how vital cybersecurity is to the survival and growth of their business. Here are some of the reasons why your warehouse needs to focus on these issues:
1. Lost Productivity
When you fail to give cybersecurity the attention it deserves, something terrible is bound to happen. A ransomware attack or some other breach is going to shut down your operations, costing you time and money in lost productivity.
2. Poor Customer Service
Poor security measures might mean your business doesn’t run efficiently, you don’t track inventory properly, or you experience frequent delays in the order fulfillment process. All of these impact the customer experience. Frustrating your customers occasionally is one thing. But, if your tech-related issues are bad enough, you’ll simply start losing customers to the competition.
3. Supply Chain Disruptions
Over the past several years, supply chains have been exposed as being pretty vulnerable due to a variety of challenges. While businesses are working hard to address these, cybersecurity needs to remain a priority. If it isn’t, a breach will have ripple effects throughout the entire network.
4. Potential Data Breaches
Data breaches have become more common than at any time in the past, impacting businesses of every shape and size worldwide. From information about individual customers to your business’s financial details, the data your company holds needs to be guarded, so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. If a breach does occur, you could face consequences like ransomware demands, investigation costs, lawsuits from victims, and regulatory fines.
5. Possible Product Theft
Another concern for warehouses and distribution centers is the possibility of product theft. If hackers get their hands on your internal data for valuable shipments, they could potentially intercept them without your knowledge.
6. Damaged Brand Reputation
Probably the worst consequence of ignoring cybersecurity is what it can do to your brand’s reputation. Consumers, business partners, and even employees trust you to keep their private information safe from prying eyes. If you betray that trust, they aren’t likely to stay quiet about it. Your brand’s reputation is going to take a hit, and it will impact your business results.
7 Cybersecurity Measures Every Warehouse Should Take
The threat of cyberattacks on logistics providers is very real, and the consequences of a breach can be significant. But your business isn’t helpless, nor should it stop innovating. Here are some technology solutions and cybersecurity measures that can work hand in hand in your warehouse.
1. Cloud-based Warehouse Management System
It might seem counterintuitive to use a cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) instead of a wired one. But an in-house system is costly to install and maintain. It is also highly vulnerable to hacks and ransomware. Believe it or not, cloud-based systems are safer because the people running them are security-focused. They have built-in protection and automatic backup systems in case something goes wrong.
2. Wireless Warehouse Infrastructure
Requiring warehouse employees to “plug in” to the system isn’t the most productive way to get things done. Most warehouses today are moving to a wireless warehouse infrastructure. Fortunately, you can make this secure by doing things like:
- Installing a firewall
- Maintaining antivirus software
- Restricting access
- Encrypting data on the network
- Keeping access point software up to date
3. Mobile Device Management
Mobile computing solutions in the warehouse include using things like handheld terminals, vehicle mount terminals, tablet computers, and wearable terminals to help workers perform more safely and efficiently. Warehouses can make these devices more secure by creating policies for acceptable use, strong passwords, frequent updates, and data encryption.
4. RFID Scanning Solutions
RFID scanning has become an increasingly popular way to track inventory and assets in warehouses and throughout the order fulfillment process. Like many products, RFID tags and readers can be reverse-engineered. But few hackers want to get their hands on your inventory data. One of the primary benefits of RFID is that it improves the overall security of your operations in that you have real-time data about inventory, orders, and assets.
5. Voice-Directed Work
Voice solutions are an innovative way for warehouses and distribution centers to improve workflow, reduce worker fatigue, and lower error rates. Combined with RFID technology, workers can get instructions via wireless headsets and confirm the completion of tasks. Bluetooth and WiFi networks are common vulnerability points, but there are ways to address them. The most common include using encryption via Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and WiFi Protected Access (WPA)
6. Employee Training
Unfortunately, many security breaches happen when a staff member makes an innocent mistake, such as clicking on an unknown email link or downloading an unauthorized app. It’s important that you train employees on how to avoid certain risks and set some strict internal security standards.
7. Partner Vetting
Finally, some cyber threats come from your supply chain partners. To improve your overall visibility in the supply, you are probably sharing data and resources. While you can’t control another company’s security measures, you can set standards that your partners must meet.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start protecting your warehouse from a potential security breach. The stakes are simply too high. By using the right technology solutions and choosing a reputable partner, you can improve productivity and keep your systems safe from prying eyes.
Advanced Mobile Group offers several effective and secure solutions that can improve your business, such as touchless warehouse systems, mobile device management, and voice-directed systems that integrate with RFID.