Freight Forwarders Wake-up to the Perils of Computer Crime

Two of your larger agents owe you a lot of money and you begin to feel the pressure as cash becomes tight and vendors start pressing you for payment.  In response to your collection efforts, both agents respond with copies of bank wire transfer slips proving funds were sent weeks ago. Both agents did indeed send payment, but to someone who had stolen your company’s identity. Regretfully this scenario is becoming more common among freight forwarders around the world.

As witnessed during the USA Presidential campaign, hacking is sophisticated and utilized to do more than steal funds – reputational damage and social justice are among other motives. Disgruntled employees, ruthless competitors, thieves, technology vandals and thrill-seekers all have the potential to make a forwarders life miserable, and costly while hiding behind the safety of their untraceable computer.

Forwarders and Brokers – who trade across borders – passing money between agents and government agencies are particularly vulnerable to theft and identity pirating. Last year, the WCA, the world’s largest network of freight forwarders, reported at least ten incidences of identity theft and wire fraud. Hundreds more went thwarted and perhaps hundreds were never reported.

4 Ways Forwarders are Electronically Sabotaged     

  • Hacking that uses your company identity to steal funds from your agents. Hackers pose as you and request that funds be sent to a different bank due to “bank account problems”.
  • Taking your computer system hostage until a ransom is paid. Ransom requests are generally small enough for forwarders to pay without a fight.
  • Phishing schemes that use a social media account like Facebook to plead with ‘friends’ to wire money while stranded in a remote country without cash, cell phone, and credit cards.
  • Credit card data theft.

7 Computer Crime Prevention Techniques   

  1. Never wire money to a new bank account without first speaking directly to a known principal of the company. Be sure employees at all levels know to do this.
  2. Don’t respond to pleas via social media without verifying that the person is indeed in that country. Call the person’s cell. If no answer, call someone close to them, preferably a family member.
  3. Change your commercial passwords often.
  4. Delete sensitive big files that you sent via the cloud because they were too large for an email attachment. The cloud is nothing more than a shared server and a target for computer thieves and agents of corporate espionage.
  5. Cap limits on company credit cards to as low as commercially possible.
  6. Contract a third-party technology security assessment firm to conduct a review of your security protocols. This is well worth the money.
  7. Consider buying insurance that specifically addresses computer crime while the cost is still relatively low. These policies are referred to as ‘Cyber Liability’.

Awareness and loss control techniques coupled with a good Cyber Liability insurance policy will go a long way to protecting your company.

About the Author:  Greg J Kritz  serves as a Strategic Advisor for World Insurance Services, Inc.
For more information contact Greg at or +1. 954. 632. 1083