Fight the Rise of Insider Threats in the Transportation Industry

Do you know if your bus driver has had a DUI in the past 6 months? Do you know if your commercial pilot has been charged with a felony?

The answers to these questions are critical to protecting your organization and your passengers, yet many transportation leaders remain in the dark between periodic background screens that allow incidents to go unnoticed for months.

From cargo theft to DUIs, few industries deal with fraud and insider threats more than transportation: 63 percent of organizations experience it at least once a year, and fraud rates have increased 77 percent in just the past two years. The numbers correlate with the rapid rise of “insider threats” where an employee or a contractor poses a safety risk or steals data and money.

The costs associated with an insider event have been estimated at up to $1 million per incident to remediate. Those costs become even greater due to long-term effects like potential litigation, elevated risk to co-workers, increased insurance costs and irreparable damage to brand reputation.

Few know this better than Dan Krantz, the CEO of Real-Time Technology Group, which oversees the Secure Worker Program (SWAC) in New York City. SWAC is a trusted community that includes seven regional Transportation Agencies, over 40 Union Locals, and over 30,000 actively contracted personnel who are responsible for building and maintaining World Trade Center and the NY-metro region’s critical transportation infrastructure.

“The biggest vulnerability of our trusted communities is the time period between individuals’ recurring background investigations,” he said. “And, our biggest challenge in starting new communities is the high-cost associated with adequate screening.”

The evolution of background screening

Due to regulations, transportation organizations conduct a full background check on candidates before they are hired and conduct periodic re-screens that can take place every six months, annually or every couple of years. While this is a necessary part of assessing risk, it’s built upon the false notion that risk remains constant in between screens.

Risk evolves alongside life. A new employee may not have posed a risk when hired, but that can change in a heartbeat due to stressful life events such as a bankruptcy, arrest, divorce or negative performance review. Periodic background checks typically focus on criminal records – which are incredibly important – but don’t tell the whole risk story. There is so much more public data that needs to be analyzed, including, but not limited to, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, infractions violations, criminal court records, social media, and news. Furthermore, this data needs to be analyzed in real-time, not six months later.

The answer to the background screening challenge in transportation lies in three words: continuous risk monitoring. Companies can now use publicly available data to make the best decisions on behalf of their employees and customers. Software today is capable of instantly collecting and analyzing every piece of risk data in real-time on an individual that is relevant to the transportation industry – a process that would take a human days to sift through. After analyzing the information, software proactively alerts security leaders when risk levels change and a situation warrants a full investigation.

As an example, let’s say an airline pilot receives a DUI charge. In the FAA guidelines, the pilot has 60 days to report the charge and let the review process begin. That means the company employing the pilot may not know about the charge for 2 months. If the company isn’t relying on its own continuous risk monitoring, the company is leaving itself vulnerable to untold costs through lawsuits, liability, insurance and brand damage by continuing to employ a potentially dangerous pilot.

This isn’t a theory – we have seen issues arise in reality. A transportation organization instituted continuous risk monitoring and within three months found 11 felony arrests, five drug-related arrests, four sanctions on employees that prohibited them from working on state contracts, one sex offender and, stunningly, three employees that were actually deceased. If the organization had waited until the next regularly scheduled screening, they would’ve continued to employ those charged with serious crimes and drastically increased their exposure to risk.

Software isn’t replacing human investigations, it’s helping security personnel prioritize how they spend their valuable risk management time and resources. When monitoring is done, upwards of 90 percent of those screened will not pose a risk to the company. It’s the remaining five percent that software can quickly find and flag in real-time.

What does this mean to your organization?

Transportation organizations face far greater consequences than other industries from risk related to litigation due to lawsuits. Every day, millions of men and women rely on transportation organizations for travel, whether by air, ground or sea. Every day, these organizations must be assured that these men and women arrive at their destination safe and sound. Just one incident involving an employee harming passengers could ruin an organization. By assessing risk on a constant, daily basis, organizations can focus on corrective actions that prevent any incident from happening.

Continuous risk monitoring is about getting ahead of potential problems. You owe it to your clients to proactively protect their safety and your business.

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