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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Admiralty & Maritime > Cyber Crime in the Bunker Industry

Cyber Crime in the Bunker Industry

In an article for the shipping industry magazine Bunkerspot, firm principal J. Stephen Simms provides a counter-offensive to the growing threat of cyber hackers targeting the bunker industry. It is common place in the bunkering industry that bunker suppliers, brokers, traders and their customers undertake inquiries and transactions via unsecured and unencrypted email and then send wires to accounts which those unsecure emails have specified. Furthermore, diverting just one wire concerning a bunker transaction can net an on-line criminal hundreds of thousands of dollars instantly. As such, the industry is especially vulnerable to electronic theft. An added wrinkle to the problem is that reporting electronic theft to the authorities offers very little possibility of successful prosecution.

Given the efforts and resources required to attempt to recover stolen funds and the embarrassment of notifying customers of a security breach, an ounce of prevention on the part of bunker suppliers is certainly worth a pound of cure here. One of the first steps in preventing electronic theft is to implement email encryption with digital signature for transmitting quotes, receiving all confirmations, and sending invoices, which allows for secure email communication with customers, partners and employees. A legal and security audit will also help identify any internal information flows that may tempt employees to engage in a criminal scheme to steal funds as well as evaluate your sales terms and procedures for security and enforceability if there is a fraud. Additionally, training your employees and yourself to be suspicious, particularly at the critical time when the customer wires funds to you, or when you wire funds to a supplier, for any indications of fraud can prevent the execution of a cyber-scheme during a transaction.

It is imperative that if your company is the victim or attempted victim of an electronic fraud, engage competent legal counsel immediately. For further information on specific steps your company should take to protect against cyber crime, a PDF version of the full article is available here.

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