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International Trade

Combating cyber crime

Combating cyber crime can be an expensive proposition but the best weapon might just be “common sense”.

While maritime security experts paint a bleak picture of cyber fraud, they all stress there are solutions at hand to at least minimize the potential for damage.

“There is a lot that can be done to address the risks related to cyber attacks,” says David Dickman, a lawyer with Venable LLP specializing in marine safety and port security. “Some are relatively simple. Some are expensive.”

The technology now exists for a far more secure container delivery system. Companies like Powers International LLC have developed devices they say can securely track containers and possible tampering and also establish an electronic trail pinpointing responsibility for the contents to specific individuals.

According to James Giermanski, Powers chairman and a former FBI agent, the devices his company has developed cost about $40 per container shipload. That kind of expenditure could be offset, he and others believe, by incentives, such as customs giving these shipments fast-track designation.

“Once there’s a green lane, more people will sign onto it and the price goes down,” says Laura Hains, another security specialist.

Insurance companies could help. They could offer discounts if companies initiate additional security measures, much as they offer breaks for ships that demonstrate best practices to counter possible pirate attacks.

“One of the cheapest ways to combat this is through education,” says David Moskoff, a professor of marine transportation at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), [speaking for himself and not in any official or governmental capacity]. “Half of this, like so much else, is just common sense.”

Organizations such as WCA, the global network of independent freight forwarders, have offered lectures and seminars on the subject. They preach the need for better security by describing various scams that have already happened and what can be done to prevent them.

“When our members do business together, we tell them the bank details should be sealed in like the Crown Jewels in London,” says Andy Robins, WCA’s vice president customer service. “It’s diligence all the time.”

Robbins’ believes the message is beginning to be heard. “It’s starting to filter through,” he says.

Matt Miller

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