Industry advised to take stock of systems in light of cybersecurity issues
ZAG Technical Services, an award-winning IT consulting firm, managed services and IT security provider specializing in agribusiness, said it's important for companies to make a plan to check their tech in light of the recent news of ransomware attacks on industry-leading ag companies.
When companies of a large size, with so many resources at their disposal, fall prey to such an attack, it may leave companies of every size feeling vulnerable. Unfortunately, it often takes a major incident to raise the priority level of cybersecurity awareness and planning. In reality, companies of all sizes and technical preparedness are at risk.
“Cybersecurity is one of the greatest risks to modern agriculture and today’s food supply chain,” said Greg Gatzke, president of ZAG Technical Services. “As the most recent ransomware attack highlights, every area of business is impacted, not just that company’s bottom line, but also availability of product to the end consumer.”
The FBI has warned that the agriculture and food industry is at risk to cyber crimes and recent data indicates cybercrime is up over 31 percent. In fact, a Newsweek article published late last year addressed the growing landscape of ag tech, along with the gaps in service and maintenance of that tech. Regrettably, service and maintenance in ag tech, manufacturing equipment, and even ERP integrations are often overlooked adding additional risk to securing company networks.
“Even if you do everything right, smart criminals may still be able to find a weak spot in your network and if they do, they will exploit it. Defense is important, but a worthwhile cybersecurity plan includes detailed response and recovery plans as well,” said Gatzke.
As the Industrial Internet of Things grows, every business faces more risk. A breakthrough at any point in the network of connected farm, packaging, warehousing and office operations could put the entire system at risk, including negatively impacting partners and vendors. Companies looking to protect themselves should consult with specialists in information technology and cybersecurity to identify their risks and assess their needs.
Information technology and cybersecurity are robust and complicated fields that are constantly changing, and a small in-house IT staff is rarely enough to keep up with the latest technologies and strategies to identify weaknesses, protect from and detect threats, respond, and recover data, while also managing daily uptime operations of basic computer and ERP systems throughout the operation.
Just like agronomists and engineers have specialized roles, ag tech, advanced ERPs, and even technical packing equipment have created the need for managed service providers knowledgeable about not just information technology, but also agribusiness and are prepared to get and keep producers safe and online in a high-tech world.
“The best step in protection is being prepared not just for the attack, but for what comes after," said Gatzke. "It costs far less to implement and maintain a technical service plan that includes a holistic approach to system maintenance and protection than solving a cybersecurity breach after it happens, as costs add up not just for technical resolution, but lost business and sales.”