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ZAG shares strategies for 2024 IT planning and budgeting

ZAG Technical Services, an award-winning strategic IT consulting firm and a leading IT security provider in agribusiness, is sharing strategies for IT planning and budgeting to help companies strengthen protections, improve bottom lines and maintain the food supply chain.

Microsoft reports that 4,000 identity authentication threats are blocked every second — that’s over 345 million threats blocked daily. For those not blocked, IBM reports that 67 percent of breaches were reported by a benign third party or by the attackers themselves leaving only one-third of breaches detected by companies’ security teams.

Tim Bussey
Tim Bussey

Maybe more surprising to many in agribusiness is that 70 percent of organizations encountering human-operated ransomware had fewer than 500 employees.

“Squeezing companies for $10,000 or $1 million is far less important in the business of cyberattacks than the win of the payout,” said Tim Bussey, CFO of ZAG.

Whether it’s technology upgrades, new IoT integrations, cybersecurity and disaster recovery planning, or new data systems for business intelligence, there is operational planning required. With budgeting season under way, ZAG is sharing a few tips to guide companies on planning their IT journeys.

“Coming from Silicon Valley tech to agribusiness just over six years ago, I was surprised by how sophisticated the industry is technologically, but equally shocked how little planning went into protecting those systems,” said Bussey.

In today’s online, data-driven world, technology maintenance and cybersecurity are a reality driving the new normal and inspiring companies to ask how they can protect their tech. The following steps can help when developing your IT plan and budget for the coming year.

Evaluate the status of your security systems
Do an audit of your current systems and software or hire experts to do it for you. Detecting all vulnerabilities and opportunities from field to plate will help identify your needs and develop your plan.

Determine crucial assets
Organize your list of vulnerabilities and opportunities by priority level. While there are many nice-to-haves, developing security and recovery plans that will get you back online in less than 24 hours in the event of a breach should be priority.

Budgeting
There is no set percentage guideline for what to spend, but the more complex and data-rich operations are, the greater losses are in the event of a breach. To help clarify needs or make recommendations, clearly label vulnerabilities and opportunities and outline expected daily losses and added consequences in the event of a breach.

Turn a weakness into an advantage
Technology on the farm and in the plant is sophisticated; however, you may not be able to build or afford an in-house team to handle everything including cybersecurity, data collection, operations, smart technology, AI and data, but you can afford to prioritize working with a managed service provider to supplement your IT department with a team of experts ready to assist in strategy development, maintenance and execution.

Review and audit regularly
Don’t set it and forget it. Tech and costs are constantly changing, and strategies need to be reassessed throughout the year. Regular audits that detail progress, weaknesses and recommendations will help keep your systems safer.

Allocating the resources needed to protect tech and operate more efficiently has never been more important. Bussey concluded, “The number of natural and man-made obstacles our agribusiness clients face trying to get their products to consumers is unlike any other industry. Keeping systems safer and drastically speeding recovery times is something we can control and should make every effort to do.”

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