Editor’s Note: At NMFTA’s Spring Weighing and Research Advisory Council Meeting in Clearwater Beach, FL, a group of presenters joined to discuss insight about cybersecurity measures for forklift-mounted scales. This was outstanding information and those who attended that meeting came away with valuable insight. We have developed this article from that presentation so you can also benefit from these insights.
Forklift-mounted scales represent a tremendous convenience in the material-handling industry, and that certainly includes LTL trucking carriers. The basic proposition is simple: Why take your material to a scale to be weighed, when you can mount a scale where you’ll be putting the material anyway–on a forklift–and save yourself a step?
There is little downside to a forklift-mounted scale itself. But like so many other assets in the logistics industry, the connectivity of such a device puts it at risk of cyberattacks if users don’t understand how to mitigate those risks.
A forklift-mounted scale comes with a scale indicator or a scale monitor. It’s the monitor you look at to tell you the weight of your item. And the monitor is typically connected to the dock via Wi-Fi. Guess what is also connected via Wi-Fi: The entire dock network, which connects to the dock management system.
This can also be connected to various PCs on the dock, as well as the AS/400 operating systems that are still widely in use in such operations. Often a user with a tablet can scan a barcode from the monitor and get the information he or she needs about the weight of the material on the forklift. This is also Wi-Fi-enabled, and the whole thing connects to the cloud.
If a cyberattacker targets the forklift-mounted scales, he or she could be in an excellent position to breach and compromise the entire network and operating system of the warehouse.
It’s easy to see how an attacker would be motivated to try this. It’s technically feasible and would have a significant impact on the business being targeted. An attacker might lick his lips at the thought of ransoming the distribution management system, the vendor datastore, the SQL server, the transportation management system, the AS/400 system, or the scale monitor.
Just imagine the impact if the attacker was able to get access to the company’s bills of lading. He could do a competitive analysis. If he’s a bit more nefarious in his motives, he could steal the cargo. And if he’s the worst of the worst, he could hold the data for ransom.
This is a real threat, but it doesn’t have to be a problem for you – not if you know how to protect yourself.
Here are some critical insights to help you protect your operation from cyberattackers who target forklift scales:
Forklift scales are a great innovation. They save time and money while helping you run more precise and accurate warehouse operations. But like anything else in the digital world, they are vulnerable to compromise if their users don’t know how to protect them.
If you keep this article handy, you will be one of the users who knows exactly what to do.
And if you thought this article was worthwhile and are interested in joining us for future Weighing and Research Advisory Council Meetings, one of which is happening October 17-19, 2023, in San Antonio, TX, connect with email@example.com.