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A. Duie Pyle CEO opens up about ransomware attack

Photo: A. Duie Pyle

Ransomware attacks in the U.S. are on the rise and transportation and logistics companies have become targets of hackers, who typically infiltrate their computer systems through phishing email attachments.

One recent target of a ransomware attack was A. Duie Pyle, a large less-than-truckload carrier based in West Chester, Pennsylvania. 

Peter Latta, chief executive of A. Duie Pyle, said his company’s ransomware nightmare started around 5:30 a.m. on June 15 after dockworkers started reporting that the company’s computer systems were going down. 

He said workers followed normal protocol and sent an email to the company’s information technology help desk with no response, followed by calls to the terminal and regional managers, and finally to its chief information officer.

Latta said the company’s CIO and system engineers quickly realized the company was a target of a ransomware attack.

“The first thing they [hackers] took out were our phone servers and our email servers, so they cut off communication, much like when you kill the radioman in combat to cut the squad off from the platoon,” Latta told FreightWaves.

The company refused to pay the ransom. 

Instead, Latta said his company took the approach that “we were going to be very open and honest with our customers.” 

“Extortion is the oldest crime in the world,” he said. “They used to threaten to burn your business down if you don’t pay them. Here, they lock you out of your house and don’t give you the keys back until you pay them.”

“The FBI told us that nobody is immune from a ransomware attack,” Latta said. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.” 

The U.S. leads the world with the highest number of malware attacks with 47 percent, followed by Indonesia with 9 percent and Brazil with 8 percent, according to a recent report by Malwarebyte, a cybersecurity firm. 

In the first quarter of 2019, ransomware attacks are up 195 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, the company said. 

All it takes is one employee to unknowingly click on a link in a phishing email in order for the malware to begin infiltrating a company’s network, according to Fleet CyWatch, an American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) and Transportation Security Council (TSC) supported program. 

Fleet CyWatch assists fleet members in reporting information about trucking related internet crimes and cyber-attacks, and shares information to fleets about cyber threats that may impact their operations, the company said on its website.

In A. Duie Pyle’s case, systems engineers found that the Trojan virus was “dropped in” to its computer system on April 19, nearly two months before it triggered the ransomware attack that locked out users.

Within days of the ransomware attack, Latta said the company was back online with little disruption to its customer service network.

A. Duie Pyle had to rebuild all of its applications, including its document systems, to invoice customers, Latta said.

“Customers continued to support us even when our service wasn’t quite spot on, but it was pretty close,” he said. “We have fully climbed out of this.”


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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 16 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected].