Recent Vehicular Terrorist Attack in Berlin Raises Concern in the U.S.by Jana Ritter - Published: 12/22/2016
After this week’s vehicular terrorist attack in Berlin, where a truck driver was murdered by the terrorist who drove his rig into a crowded Christmas market, there is growing concern about terrorists using similar tactics in the U.S. While some trucking companies have already been preparing their drivers with preventative training against potential threats including hijackings, companies are also being warned that they need to jack up security on the cyber end as well.
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Justin Cox is the Training Manager at the Missouri based company, Wil-Trans, and he says there are so many potential threats on the road that it’s absolutely necessary for companies to train their drivers to be prepared anything and everything. "Day one we're talking about it in the introduction about equipment security, about not leaving your equipment unattended for any length of time unsecured, and truck stop parking lots," he explains. Kem Emerizan is a CDL Instructor for the company and as a female who has worked in the industry for 15 years, she is also well aware of all the dangers that drivers face on the job. "There's just so many variables out here that you have to be prepared to take charge and handle it right away." But she also says that really, the best line of defense for any scenario is to simply stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times so that you’re less likely to be a target. "Just be smart about it. Don't put yourself in a bad situation. Don't become that target because you don't give them an opening to be a target," says Emerizan.
While the wave of vehicular terror attacks still hasn’t hit the U.S. and terrorist attacks aren’t exactly common in the Midwest, Cox says their company still treats it as a very real threat and they train their drivers to be ready. "It's a very real threat and we prepare everyone the same way day one. We always treat it as it's always going to happen or it really could happen every single time," he says. The company says they also equip their trucks with safety equipment that helps with anti-theft deterrence such as a kill switch and an alarm key code. "Everything is time stamped, everything's GPS within five feet, we can ping a vehicle. We know where exactly you're going to secure your equipment. We want to know where that truck and trailer is going to be and how long it's going to be there."
However, last August after Bastille Day vehicular terrorist attack in Nice, France, a team of hackers/researchers alerted the U.S. trucking industry to take their cyber security a lot more seriously if they want to prevent similar attacks. At the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies in Austin, TX, they demonstrated how easy it was to use a laptop to hack into the computerized vehicle systems to change gauge settings, brake operations and acceleration controls. “These companies need to start looking at computer security as a potential safety issue like they look at making sure air bags work properly,” one of the researchers said at the conference. “It all needs to go into the same level of priority.” They also said that even by taking simple measures such as creating high-security passwords for computer systems, trucking companies can make themselves a lot less vulnerable to hackers.