We know: Any industry would impact the world by disappearing. We don’t want to see a world without bobbleheads, post-it notes or novelty gift stores.

But we don’t do a lot of work with those industries. We do a lot of work with the trucking industry. And because much of that work is focused on cybersecurity imperatives for trucking, we recently helped our client, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, write a video script about what life would be like in America if a massive cyberattack took down the entire industry.

The video is still in production so we’re not able to share it yet, but we did want to share some of the astonishing facts we included about how quickly American society would devolve into dystopia without trucking. To wit:

  • If trucking stopped, Americans would face catastrophic food shortages in just three days.
  • If trucking stopped, water purification supplies would run out as quickly as two weeks, and Americans would not have safe water to drink.
  • If trucking stopped, hospitals would run out of critical supplies within 24 hours.
  • If trucking stopped, gas stations would run out of gas in less than three days.
  • If trucking stopped, the 236 million tons of garbage we generate annually would sit on curbs or in people’s homes. There would be no one to pick it up.

Now you might be thinking, “Sure, if all trucking stopped this stuff would happen, but what are the chances of that?”

The chances are not high. But they’re not zero either.

Every industry is vulnerable to malware and ransomware attacks, but the trucking industry is in a unique position. Trucking is a somewhat recent adopter of new digital technologies, and the more you digitize, the greater the potential for disaster.

Things like electronic logging devices have to be interconnected, but truck vehicle networks weren’t designed to be put on the Internet. They use codes from the 1980s and they’re vulnerable to hackers using methods as ancient as antennae.

We’re not fans of writing scary stories. We’d rather provide people with hope and solutions to problems. But sometimes it’s necessary to present the severity of a potential problem so people don’t continue in the delusion that there is nothing to worry about. We’ve already seen major ransomware attacks used to successfully extort millions of dollars out of major carriers. And there are even more sophisticated attackers out there, including some who are state-sponsored, planning bigger attacks.

If nothing else, we hope facts like these help the average person appreciate the importance of the leading industry we serve. Everyone has probably, at some point, cursed a slow-moving truck that got in front of them on a highway – or lamented the condition of the highways (especially the ones we have here in Michigan) and at least in part blamed those heavy trucks rambling over all that concrete.

But the next time you buy something at a store or take delivery of an online order, a truck driver played a role in you getting it.

We enjoy telling the stories of the trucking industry because we understand better every day what an impact it makes on the day-to-day workings of our entire country. For most people there is no real call to action here. If you feel like thanking a trucker we won’t argue with you. But the most important thing is for people to understand how vital every one of those big rigs is to our country.

Even the one that got in front of you in the left lane.