Cyber Security For Agribusiness

Collette Schultz

Spyware, malware, viruses – for someone managing a busy farm, keeping track of the latest cyber security threats can be challenging. But with small businesses suffering the majority of cyber attacks, no business owner can afford to ignore the threat. Here are our top tips for simple ways to keep your farm data safe:

1. Keep your software up to date: Keeping your software up to date is a great way to protect your business assets. Companies that make operating systems like Windows, or applications like Quickbooks, will release patches or fixes for loopholes they find that a malicious user could exploit. One of the easiest ways you can make sure your software stays updated is to turn on automatic updating for products that offer it, and to regularly check employee computers or devices to make sure their systems are updated too.
2. Use strong passwords: Despite being one of the most effective ways to protect personal and business assets, many people do not use strong passwords. Make sure your employees regularly change their passwords to business accounts, and do not share passwords with each other. Make sure your passwords:
● Have eight or more characters
● Contain letters, numbers, and symbols
● Are not words or phrases someone could easily guess, like a pet name, or street address
● Are not the same for every service you use

3. Avoid being phished: As technology has evolved, so has email scamming. While most people can avoid obvious scams, including messages advertising too-good-to-be-true opportunities, and get rich quick schemes, one of the more malicious email scams is phishing, where scammers craft believable messages pretending to be colleagues, organizations you know, or friends and family. If you’re ever not sure about a message, verify with the sender to make sure it is legitimate. Remember, companies and banks will never ask you to send account information over email. Another popular email scam is Trojan horse emails, which encourage users to download or open an attachment sent with the email.

Protect yourself and your business from email scams by setting up email spam filters on your business and personal email, treating attachments with caution, and verifying suspicious messages.

4. Keep mobile security in mind: If you use a smartphone, you need to protect your device as much as you would protect your PC. Lock your phone with a passcode, limit public exposure of your cell phone number, and consider installing remote wipe software so you can disable the device if you ever lose it. Only install apps you trust, and regularly review which of your apps have access to various features of your phone.

5. Only connect to Wi-Fi networks you know: If you’re traveling with your smartphone or laptop, be thoughtful about which Wi-Fi networks you connect to. Malicious users can create fake Wi-Fi hotspots and gain access to your device if you connect. Use the same caution with Bluetooth. For Wi-Fi networks you control, like those in your home or business, make sure to secure the network with a strong password you change regularly. Be sure your router is not using the default password it came with.

6. Work with IT partners you trust:

For today’s agricultural business, protecting your digital assets is a key component of business security. With common sense, safe technology, and IT partners you can trust, you can focus on growing your business, not cyber threats. To learn more, read our advice about common malware attacks every small business owner should protect against.