Forward Air Pushes Forward

By Reagan Payne

Any company looks good in the good times. While odds seem to pile up against its favor, Forward Air broke into a new 52-week high in the stock market.

While at first glance this might not mean much to drivers, setting this annual personal record can be a good sign of company momentum and growth. These numbers signaling more investors to buy in only brings more resources to the company itself.

This sign of growth might come as a surprise after the inevitable struggles Forward Air faced just within the last month. Then again, the way the company overcame this adversity is a reason to invest in itself.

In the last weeks of 2020, the company faced a debilitating cyberattack. The text file that followed the computer paralysis informed employees that files were encrypted and unavailable to them. The text file showed no sign of negotiation or regard for the business files.

Moving Forward

Luckily, the Forward Air frequently does comprehensive role-play exercises to prepare for events like these. In both the role-play and real-life situation, the experience of the employees in the office and on the roads made all the difference.

“We hack ourselves all the time,” Forward Air chairman and CEO Thomas Schmitt said to FreightWaves. “When we find a hole, we plug the hole. So when this happened, they divided up the physical space into quadrants, brought in the pen and paper and went back into their muscle memory.”

Keeping people on staff for more than 20 years means keeping people that know how to work in the absence of modern technology that is susceptible to these attacks. When the systems went down, they went back to Old School.

The scale of the attack warranted bringing in the FBI instead of a local law enforcement division. Even so, Forward Air was able to continue paying its drivers for the loss of supply chain hours due to the attack.

The ability to carry on with these time sensitive operations was thanks to a cybersecurity fence. This was already in place when the attack occurred. In addition to keeping payroll running, freight also still was able to move in and out of the facilities safely.

Preventative measures

Taking a big hit to your network is preventable, but the key is determining where you may be most vulnerable and taking preemptive measures. The best preventative measures are to keep your security policies and software up to date.

“It is preventable, but it’s also very common,” said Rob Cartier, Lead Developer here at HireMaster. “It’s impossible to know what kind of attack will happen to your company, a cyberattack can apply to anything on the internet.

“These attacks can be on anything. They could send an email to everyone in the company, shut down the systems, or just any program that runs online. Knowing where you are most vulnerable is the first step to protecting your business from these attacks.”

Reagan Payne is a staff writer for Wright Media. She can be reached at

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