Thursday, May 13, 2010

Make Sure Your Shipping System is Not on the Wrong Side of the Firewall

Even the fastest shipping system operators can be stopped in their tracks by something completely beyond their control. Loss of electricity? Storms? Floods? An overdue lunch hour (OK, I made that one up.)? Well, sure, but there is one thing we hear about very often that will bring shipping to a complete halt. It's the dreaded firewall update or, maybe worse, a new firewall.

We know two things. First, companies are updating their computer protection systems. Second, when a firewall is replaced or updated, the shipping system can definitely be affected. When there is a change that affects shipping, the shipping system operator may not know enough about the company's computer configuration to have any idea a system change has shut down shipping. But they do know they can no longer ship!

Often, the shipping system company's tech support gets the first call, asking why the shipping system no longer works. Since the shipping software is not the problem, these calls can sometimes be hard to diagnose. And hard to diagnose means the packages stack up.

So, if you hear the words "firewall" and "change" in the same sentence from an IT worker, right then might be the best time to remind them that the shipping department has connections to the outside world that must continue to work. Most shipping systems companies can provide the technical information needed so the new or updated firewall will allow the shipping system computer to work properly.

For our CPS shipping software, our technicians know many of the signs that show a computer equipment change has disabled the shipping system. Our techs are talented, but this type of issue will need to be solved by the shipper's IT or other computer staff.

Today, shippers want their shipping system to be fast. But, with the cyber bad guys out there, important computers like the shipping system must also be made as safe as possible. So if your shipping system just stops working, ask if there has been a firewall (or maybe anti-virus - but that's for another time) update or change. Not being able to ship is quite a shipping problem to solve and hopefully these notes will help you solve this one, too.

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