Lockdowns and border restrictions are beginning to ease up. Businesses are starting to resume their pre-COVID operations. And slowly but surely, the world seems to be moving towards a new normal. That said, in the midst of all of this instability, cargo crime is on the rise due to the current disruption in global supply chains.
The routes that goods and people typically take from Point A to Point B have been disrupted. This is because the world is still trying to get back on its feet, and not all countries are working towards opening their borders. Take Australia and New Zealand, for example, as reported by BBC. While both are experiencing a downward trend in COVID-19 cases, they have publicly declared that they do not intend to open up their borders any time soon, creating a “Tasmanian Bubble” impenetrable by the rest of the world. Additionally, although Wuhan is back up and running after being forced into lockdown earlier this year, the possibility of a second wave lingers, leaving the fate of supply chains that rely on China for their operations in the flux. All of these facts make one thing clear: supply chains are not flowing as smoothly as they once were, leaving them more vulnerable to crimes like theft.
Interestingly enough, since the start of the pandemic, cargo theft has fallen off as much as 85%, according to Alex Lennane at The Loadstar. This is primarily due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions that were in place. As they are now being reversed, experts believe that rates of cargo theft will spike as thieves try to recoup “lost wages.”
Additionally, as goods are moving across new routes, supply chains that are not digitized are more fragile due to a lack of visibility. This becomes an even bigger issue when goods are in unfamiliar areas, and fraudulent individuals can take advantage of the chaos to engage in theft. Thankfully, supply chains that incorporate technologies like blockchain are less susceptible to cargo crime as the technology creates a verified and secure digital ledger that clearly shows where goods are in the supply chain and who last handled them. If a shipment goes missing, blockchain can allow for accountability and for appropriate action to be taken.
Counterfeiting has always been an issue in the logistics industry, but in the era of COVID-19, the consequences could be deadly.
Consider the increasing demand for N95 masks. N95 masks protect healthcare and other essential workers by blocking airborne particles, like respiratory droplets potentially containing COVID-19. A counterfeit mask would not provide the same benefits, and typically, there’s no way to discern the difference between a real and a fake with the naked eye. In this instance, counterfeits can be the difference between life and death, and unfortunately, since the demand for personal protective equipment is booming, criminals are taking advantage of the opportunity to make some extra cash.
This is another example of where blockchain can be instrumental in thwarting cargo crime, in that blockchain clearly outlines all certifications for a good or product and traces it back to its source. It eliminates any uncertainty about whether or not a product is legitimate, and in this case, it can allow essential workers to continue fulfilling their obligations in these uncertain times.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center, numbers of reported cyber attacks have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, to as many as 4,000 incidents in a day, as reported by The Hill. In particular, hospitals, pharmacies, and healthcare organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) have been targeted as they are in the public eye more than ever.
Additionally, especially with the workforce going remote, the prevalence of email scams is rising, and it’s now vital to triple-check all of your sensitive communication. Scammers looking for personal information are increasing in number, and phishing incidents are taking place every day.
What this all means moving forward
It is clear that supply chains are extremely vulnerable to cargo crime right now due to global disruptions, and supply chain managers should take action to strengthen their operations. New technologies like blockchain and automation can create more resilient supply chains that can withstand COVID-19, cargo crime, and anything else the future may hold. To learn more about if blockchain might be a good fit for your organization, drop us a line.