Brazil accounted for 68% of all recorded cargo theft incidents in South America. © Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Brazil accounted for 68% of all recorded cargo theft incidents in South America. © Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Beware the insider threat

5 August 2019

Corrupt employees are threatening supply chains by helping criminals break into parked lorries or even hijack them in transit.

The “insider threat”, where criminals recruit employees of targeted companies in order to glean information on cargos or delivery routes, is one of the latest risks to supply chains, a new study has found.

Industry experts TT Club and BSI Supply Chain Services & Solutions are warning that this emerging threat is a “common vulnerability” for organisations. 

“People are an organisation’s biggest asset; however, in some cases they can also pose an insider risk,” they said in their Cargo Theft Annual Report for 2018. 

“As organisations implement increasingly sophisticated physical, procedural and cyber security measures to protect their assets from external threats, the recruitment of insiders becomes a more attractive option for those attempting to gain access.”

The report found that 88% of insider acts were carried out by permanent staff, while only 7% of cases involved contractors and only 5% involved agency or temporary staff. 

The most frequent types of insider activity were unauthorised disclosure of sensitive information (47%) and process corruption (42%). Men accounted for 82% of cases, while women accounted for the remaining 18%.

The report advised organisations to reduce the risk of recruiting staff likely to present a security concern. It found that in Europe more than 75% of cargo theft occurs whilst in transit. Much of the problem is down to the use of soft-sided trailers by European hauliers. 

“This primarily explains the high frequency of the slash-and-grab tactic,” the report states. “Thieves cut into the tarpaulin covering trailers in order to quickly remove goods.”

The problem is exacerbated by the low number of secure parking locations for lorries, and the lack of law enforcers targeting these types of crimes across Europe.

The report stressed how the high number of unsecured vehicles parked across the region meant there was little need for criminals to take greater risks by targeting warehouse facilities. 

Within Europe, the UK was responsible for 86% of reported incidents. The United States and Canada saw similar trends to Europe, with theft focusing on unattended and unsecured vehicles. However, South America suffered the world’s highest rate of truck hijackings, and Brazil accounted for 68% of all recorded incidents there. 

Meanwhile, China and India saw the greatest amount of cargo theft across Asia – the most commonly targeted commodities being food, beverages, metals and electronics, most likely influenced by local market conditions.

“Whilst theft of cargo in transit is prevalent, the insider threat is more pronounced, as is the risk of theft from warehouse facilities,” the report said of the Asia region. 

In the Middle East and Africa, violent hijackings are more common, with cargo often targeted during transit. Criminal tactics include thieves impersonating law enforcement officers, forcing drivers to stop at the side of the road.

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