The logistics industry, currently one of the greatest winners in the 2020 pandemic world, is under enormous threat going into 2021 as one of the UK’s prime business sectors is targeted by sophisticated cyber-destructors and intellectual property thieves.
“The logistics sector is at a major crossroad… and the real winners and losers will more accurately be defined in the next couple of years” commented Robert Garbett, founder of Drone Major Group, and one of the world’s leading advisors on the advanced capabilities of unmanned systems (drones).
“This year’s lockdowns and now the Christmas rush of pent-up demand have provided virtually all logistics companies with a rapid accelerator for growth, and most have fared extremely well. But in 2021 and beyond, there will be a massive division between those in the logistics sector who have recognised the need to embrace fast evolving new technologies, and in particular those which are safeguarded against cyber espionage, and attackers targeting their supply chains, and those logistics companies who have simply ridden the wave.”
Last month’s report by IBM’s ‘threat intelligence taskforce’ highlighted how hackers ‘probably backed by a nation state’ appeared to be trying to disrupt or steal information about the key processes to keep the newly approved Covid vaccines cold as they travel from factories to hospitals and doctors’ offices. “The potential for disruption of supply chains is enormous” said Garbett and, “until recently, logistics organisations have felt they have been relatively safe… but the stakes are getting higher as the need for more sophisticated logistics services, such as unmanned (drone) conveyance is increasingly in demand.”
The economic significance of the logistics sector is huge. Trade association, LogisticsUK, has confirmed that there are over 194,000 logistics enterprises in the UK, with 2.6 million employed in the wider industry. The logistics sector has a £1 trillion turnover, contributing £130 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy, which is 10.2% of the contribution to the UK non-financial business economy. In comparison, the scale of this industry is far greater than UK construction, energy and manufacturing among others.
Garbett added: “Data security at every point in a logistics system is paramount and like any IOT (internet of things) system there are many points which will need protection, and a strong culture of cyber security will need to exist to avoid the inevitable human error and threat from malicious human interference, which are the cause of the vast majority of cyber breaches in any system. Modern sophisticated logistics must create new types of infrastructure on a world stage to adapt to a rapidly evolving threat landscape.
“Drones have been shown to offer a wide range of benefits to logistics operations, providing a cost-effective and environmentally responsible alternative to traditional methods, as well as relieving the burden on our already stretched road traffic system. One of the challenges, however, is the need to adopt drone technology within a disciplined, holistic strategy which supports the organisation and ‘future proofs’ what is put in place. To maintain its global competitiveness, it is now more important than ever that the UK logistics industry recognises the speed of drone technology advancement, embraces it, innovates, and stays ahead of the hackers.”