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Where does SA logistics stand as far as cyber security is concerned?

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Bidvest truck on the road

Local market leaders including Bidvest International Logistics provide a fascinating perspective on where this vital part of the nation’s economy rests and what needs to be done to address increasing threats

Johannesburg, 18 October 2022 – South Africa’s logistics industry is battling a war on many fronts. 

Bad weather, equipment breakdowns and shortages and congestion continue to hamper the country’s ports and adding days to the supply chain, creating havoc downstream.  

The conflict in Ukraine and the weakness of the rand are exacerbating the situation, with inflation skyrocketing to the detriment of consumers.

In addition, South Africa is now firmly in the crosshairs of cyber criminals. Anti-virus provider Kaspersky’s research shows that ransomware attacks in South Africa doubled between January and April 2022 compared to the same period last year.

The 2021 cyber attack on Transnet was especially damaging, impacting ports, harbours and pipelines to the point that the state enterprise was forced to declare force majeure at several container terminals. 

Lesiba Sebola, Director of Information Technology at Bidvest International Logistics (BIL), says it’s paramount to safeguard IT infrastructure given how central it’s become to operations. 

“The bottom line is the financial losses incurred. Transnet not being able to operate their ports affects us, and obviously if there are attacks in our own environment that necessitates downtime of the infrastructure and it would be difficult to conduct business,” he says. 

Sebola says the most prevalent form of attack is phishing that seeks to get information from users. 

“You need a multifaceted approach to protecting your information. We have perimeter security, which involves firewalls. And with operating systems there’s always updates you need to do, whether it’s an operating system update or security update to eliminate vulnerabilities that the providers have identified.”

Anti-virus software is another must as part of your end-point security.   

“Your end-point security is also important to protect the confidentiality of your company information in case of the stolen end-point devices. Sometimes we tend not to think about stolen goods and how they can be used in the process of a cyber attack.”

However, Sebola stresses the most important aspect of cyber security is user awareness.   

“The majority of successful attacks happen here. If your users are not aware, it’s like taking a key to your house and throwing it over the security fence for attackers to use. 

“At BIL, we have an online program where staff can learn about security and the different types of attack, e-mail impersonations, for example. If they spot an e-mail that looks a bit suspicious, we’ve got a special process to which they can send an alert for us to investigate. This forms part of our induction process and occurs on a quarterly basis. We also hold an annual Computer Security Day in November.”

Like Sebola, Craig Rosewarne, MD of cyber security company Wolfpack Information Risk, believes everyone is at risk of cyber attacks. 

 “You could be an individual, a nonprofit, a small charity, it doesn’t matter. The hacker doesn’t care where

the money comes from,” he says.

“The harsh reality is that attacks can’t be prevented, but organisations can defend against them, provided they recognise the complexity of digital crimes and tackle them accordingly.”

For Sebola, this means continuously monitoring networks to establish any irregular patterns.

“You have to have an incident response plan in place, but you also can’t have a prescriptive one that is generic. This plan will tell you who needs to be involved, who the contact people are, and not just from IT. You need to establish who is involved from legal, operations and the communications side, because there are various aspects that you want to consider. 

“When you have cyber insurance, part of the requirement is that you inform them of any breaches.  It’s important to keep logs from the IT side. Make sure you contain the attack so you can preserve the evidence. This is important in terms of the analysis later on to prevent such a breach from happening again.”

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Unitrans launches Centre of Excellence to enhance African supply chain solutions

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Operating cost efficiencies and safety – both driver and vehicle – are primary considerations for any logistics or freight company and Unitrans, a forward-thinking company dedicated to providing value-added supply chain solutions across the continent, moves this to a new level with the launch of its newly upgraded Centre of Excellence (COE).

“The launch of our upgraded COE marks a significant milestone for Unitrans and the industry as a whole,” says Jacques Greeff, Executive of Solutions at Unitrans. “We are thrilled to unveil this state-of-the-art facility that will drive value creation and operational excellence for our clients across Africa.”

The modern supply chain is driven by ‘big data’ with information coming directly from trucks on the road, fleet management systems and other services. The COE collects, analyses this data and provides real-time solutions and information to all relevant departments, as well as to drivers on the road – for example, instant route changes to avoid traffic jams and the like.

By harnessing the power of technology through the COE, Unitrans is able to process large-scale data into actionable business intelligence.

“Our focus is on empowering our clients with real-time insights and predictive analytics that drive informed decision-making and enhance overall operational performance,” remarks Greeff. “Through our centralised platform and data-driven approach, we are unlocking new possibilities for supply chain optimisation and cost efficiency.”

Unitrans is committed to developing bespoke solutions to provide optimal results for its customers. The company’s commitment to excellence extends beyond technology and data analytics. Its team of industry experts brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table, ensuring clients receive best-in-class solutions tailored to their specific needs.

“We believe that the future of supply chain management lies in the integration of data-driven insights and advanced technology,” continues Greeff. “Our COE is designed to be a game-changer, offering our clients a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving marketplace.”

Greeff describes the COE as an enabling tool that serves to optimise operations, mitigate risks and enhance safety and security measures – ultimately contributing to the increased efficiencies of our customers’ supply chains. Some of the tangible benefits of the COE include fleet optimisation, reduced standing times and an overall boost in vehicle efficiency.

Whilst none of these concepts are new, the Unitrans COE uniquely balances risk mitigation imperatives and efficiency targets with sustainability objectives.

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics means leveraging historical and real-time data to forecast future outcomes. By analysing large-scale data sets, businesses can gain valuable insights into patterns, trends and potential risks, allowing them to make informed decisions and mitigate operational challenges effectively.

In the context of a logistics business, predictive analytics can revolutionise risk management practices by identifying potential issues before they escalate, reducing operational risks and improving operational cost efficiency significantly.

Through the continuous analysis of data related to factors such as weather conditions, traffic patterns, equipment maintenance and driver behaviour, transport and logistics companies can proactively address potential problems and optimise their operations for efficiency, safety and sustainability.

“Ultimately, with the integration of advanced predictive analytics tools and large-scale data analysis, it is conceivable the supply chain industry could not only reduce operational risks, but potentially eradicate them altogether,” says Greeff.

This transformative approach has the power to improve the way supply chain businesses operate, ensuring smoother operations, enhanced safety standards, and ultimately, a more sustainable and reliable supply chain ecosystem.

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JC Auditors prompts Easter Road Safety Campaign

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South Africa has historically faced alarming road safety challenges during the Easter holiday period. According to past statistics, road accidents and fatalities tend to spike significantly during this time, highlighting the need for heightened awareness and proactive safety measures. According to Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, 225 people died on the roads over the four-day Easter 2023 long weekend in 185 fatal crashes.

This is an almost 40% increase on the number of deaths in 2022. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the number of fatal crashes increased by 33% between Easter 2022 and 2023, with North West and Northern Cape recording decreases of 57% and 25% respectively in fatal crashes. The highest percentage increase was in the Free State at 125%, followed by Kwa-Zulu Natal at 67%.

As a prompt to the road transport industry, JC Auditors (JCA) are encouraging the road transport sector to consider initiating Easter road safety campaigns in the context of their business operations. The industry is being encouraged to consider simple, innovative ways to keep safe driving at the forefront during this high-risk period. With the holiday season approaching, it is crucial to avoid becoming immune to the messages of road safety campaigns and instead focus on engaging and impactful methods to remind drivers of the importance of safe driving.

“These campaigns need not be formal and big events – although the bigger corporates may opt for this – but a simple safety talk, a few impactful posters, a voice-note to the drivers, a quick reminder by the fleet controller. This can make a difference to at least one life,” says Yashen Naidoo, JC Auditors’ RTMS Lead Auditor.

More than 80% of road accidents are due to driver behavioural issues. Therefore, changing the mindset, attitude, and focus of drivers is crucial in reducing road accidents and fatalities. “From the RTMS audits conducted, we have found that distracted driving, travelling at unsafe speeds, and not maintaining a safe following distance are key contributors to road accidents,” comments Naidoo. “Drivers need to adjust their driving behaviour to suit prevalent road conditions, including high traffic density, road construction sites, wet roads, poor visibility, and damaged roads.”

Certain routes, such as the section of the N3 between Pietermaritzburg and Hammarsdale, pose an extremely high risk to drivers due to narrow lanes with temporary barriers. A minor lane deviation, a moment of distraction, or travelling at an unsafe speed can have catastrophic results. Commercial fleet operators need to raise awareness among their drivers about such high-risk routes and the need for extra caution.

The N3 Toll Route has seen a significant increase in the number of trucks over the past decade, mainly due to the transfer of freight from rail to road. On average, 7 000 trucks move thousands of tons of goods on the N3 every day. Given the high risks, commercial fleet operators need to seriously consider innovative means of raising awareness in our collective efforts to reduce road crashes and fatalities.

As part of the collective effort to stimulate practical road safety initiatives, JC Auditors (JCA) has made a free “Easter Safety Basket” poster available to prompt commercial fleets to start taking steps to promote safe driving. The poster which can be shared with drivers may be downloaded from JC Auditors. “By working together and taking little steps, we must believe that, despite our poor road safety record, we can make a difference!” concludes Naidoo.

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Road Freight Association revs up for annual conference at Arabella Hotel, Golf & Spa

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Political Analyst Ongama Mthimka

The Road Freight Association (RFA) is gearing up for its annual conference, which this year takes place in the picturesque town of Hermanus in the Western Cape. The three-day event, held from May 24 to 26 at the Arabella Hotel & Spa, will bring together key stakeholders, thought leaders, and professionals from the road freight industry for networking, innovative ideas, learning, and relationship-building.

RFA CEO Gavin Kelly.

Promising to be a melting pot of knowledge and collaboration, attendees can look forward to a dynamic conference agenda featuring engaging panel discussions and insightful presentations. “The conference is a highlight on our calendar,” says RFA CEO Gavin Kelly. “It offers a pivotal platform for industry to come together to share and create dialogue that propels our sector forward.”

With television presenter Jeremy Maggs anchoring the event as MC, the keynote address at the conference is traditionally delivered by the Minister of Transport – and this year the address will centre around the conference theme, “Changing the Rhythm of Trucking.” Joining the Minister is a line-up of distinguished speakers including political analyst Ongama Mtimka, logistics expert Professor Jan Havenga, and Athena Executive Director, Devon Palanee.  Additionally, RFA CEO Gavin Kelly and RFA chairman Penwell Lunga will give insights into the RFA’s vision for the year.

Adding an extra spark to the proceedings, attendees can look forward to the enlightening presence of self-proclaimed political activist Evita Bezuidenhout as she shares her unique perspectives on South Africa’s political and social realities.

In addition to the conference programme, delegates can explore an exhibition and truck display, providing interactive engagement with cutting-edge technologies, industry advancements, and innovative solutions. Golf enthusiasts are invited to bring their clubs for a round at Arabella’s esteemed golf course.

“We look forward to welcoming industry at the conference as we celebrate the backbone of our nation’s economy – the road freight sector. Without Trucks, South Africa stops. Let us convene, robustly discuss issues affecting the industry, share insights, and propel our industry forward together,” says Kelly.

Registration for the conference is now open on the RFA website. Take advantage of the opportunity. Look out for the early bird offer.

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