Skip Navigation

Critical Infrastructure News

Global trade patterns distorted by the COVID-19 pandemic have thrown the intermodal shipping industry out of whack, creating massive imbalances in shipping containers, intermodal chassis and drayage drivers. That’s the assessment of an expert panel during the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Expo on Sept. 13. “The intermodal industry is under unprecedented strain,” said Larry Gross, founder and president of Gross Transportation Consulting. “A host of problems have ricocheted across the entire industry.” 

Virtually every segment, from shipping to rail to trucking, struggles to get capacity in the best locations and find enough drivers and staff to keep operations running smoothly, he said. “Part of the challenge that we face is the lopsided nature of development in the wake of COVID,” Vespucci Maritime CEO Lars Jensen said. Speaking by teleconference from Copenhagen, Denmark, Jensen said other nations aren’t matching the explosion in import volume to the U.S. Globally, trade volumes are only slightly above their pre-pandemic levels. That has caused shipping lines to relocate vessels to the Pacific shipping lanes and create a global imbalance.

Read more: Transport Topics

The past year made it clear how many cyber challenges we face and how the threat landscape has evolved since the physical attacks on our country on 9/11. A raft of ransomware attacks has led to ransom demands as a condition for the decryption of data and to prevent its public release. Threat actors have successfully compromised digital and technology supply chains to launch large-scale attacks on governments and enterprises, impacting small businesses, local government, and hospitals. Attacks on critical infrastructure have also increased significantly over the past several years, leading to the compromise of water treatment plants, food processing facilities, and oil and gas infrastructure, which have dramatically increased the real-world impacts of cyber-attacks.

While the U.S. government has worked to respond to these emerging challenges, most notably through a Presidential Executive Order and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) release of advisories and mitigation guidance, there is more work to be done. The Executive Order and the executive actions it has already spurred will have some impact, but the government needs to further enhance its response to threat actors behind many of the recent attacks with a focus on nation-states. The Biden administration should also consider pushing for expanded international action and embracement of shared cyber norms that help protect critical infrastructure and limit the impact to everyday users.

Undoubtedly, the most high-profile story in cyber over the past year has been ransomware. The past year has seen an observed rise in ransomware attacks, impacting a broader cross-section of industry, including industrial production facilities and critical infrastructure. Even in instances where companies successfully defend against a ransomware attack, via backups for example, they still face the threat of data exfiltration and “double extortion,” where there is the demand for a ransom to prevent the release or sale of stolen data coupled with the initial decryption payment demand.

Attacks on critical infrastructure have had major downstream impacts, such as the impacts on gasoline availability on the East Coast following the Colonial Pipeline attack. In some instances, these attacks have compounded physical supply chain issues. The attack on JBS, a major meat processing company, led to temporary shortages intensified by COVID-19 related supply chain impacts. Similarly, attacks on major logistics firms, like CMA CGM, can have follow-on effects, impacting the supply of a wide variety of goods across an interconnected global supply chain.

Read more: HS Today

Around the world, there are an estimated 40.3 million victims trapped in modern-day slavery, according to the International Labour Organization. One in four of those victims are children. In addition, victims’ rights groups say that human trafficking across the U.S. (and the world) rose during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, which only collects information from its hotline, has seen growth year over year in human trafficking situations, recording a 5% increase in reported cases between 2018 and 2019, for example.

But the numbers are difficult to get a handle on due to the nature of human trafficking; many crimes are never prosecuted, let alone reported. Countries or states reporting zero or low amounts of human trafficking offenses, for example, are merely reflecting data reported by local law enforcement or the justice system.

Aside from a moral obligation to seek out and report possible criminal behaviors such as human trafficking, organizations in any sector may face repercussions related to human trafficking, such as reputational damage, legal damage and supply chain damage, according to Lindsey Roberson, Director of Legal Engagement at the Human Trafficking Institute. The Human Trafficking Institute works all over the world to identify best practices for the prosecution of trafficking crimes, publish human tracking data, and help other countries identify and prosecute trafficking crimes.

“Frontline workers in any industry can certainly be briefed and trained on signs of trafficking,” Roberson says. But security leaders or those leaders within the enterprise that deal with risk and resilience, labor and safety, should also be looking at other areas to mitigate human trafficking and potential effects on the business, she says.

Taking a proactive approach to examining potential risks and liabilities within the supply chain in regards to human rights violations, human trafficking or other abuses, can save a company from financial or legal liabilities, but also help it avoid the look of impropriety that can cause consumers and others to place judgment on the organization and inflict irreversible reputational damage.

Read more: Security Mag

Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium has made several safety and security upgrades for 2021. One of those upgrades includes digital seat tags on all 66,000 seats within the stadium. Each seat has a QR codes unique to the seat that allows spectators to snap a picture with their camera, which will take them to the stadium's digital seat platform on their smart phone.

Fans can access the rosters playing teams, game stats in real time, as well as report any maintenance or security issues. The reporting allows security staff to pinpoint the exact location of an incident, helping with faster response time.

Read more: Security Mag

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), the National Insider Threat Task Force (NITTF), the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Intelligence and Security, the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security launched the third-annual “National Insider Threat Awareness Month” (NITAM).

NITAM is an annual, month-long campaign during September to educate government and industry about the risks posed by insider threats and the role of insider threat programs.  Federal insider threat programs are composed of multi-disciplinary teams that address insider threats while protecting privacy and civil liberties of the workforce; maximizing organizational trust and ensuring positive work cultures that foster diversity and inclusion.

The NITAM campaign seeks to encourage employees in government and the private sector to recognize behaviors of concern and report them so early intervention can occur, leading to positive outcomes for at-risk individuals and reduced risks to organizations.  To learn more about the campaign and resources available to organizations, visit the NITAM 2021 website.

All organizations are vulnerable to insider threats.  An insider threat is anyone with authorized access who uses that access to wittingly or unwittingly harm an organization or its resources.  Most insider threats exhibit risky behavior prior to committing negative workplace events.  If identified early, many insider threats can be mitigated before harm occurs.

Read more: HSToday