Instances of cyber-attacks, ID theft and cyber crimes continue to rise. Last year, the FBI had a record number of complaints with potential losses reaching nearly $7 billion, explains Jen Pino-Gallagher of M3 Insurance.
The good news is that more people are becoming aware of their risk, including the agriculture sector. Pino-Gallagher says it all comes down to money. Hackers target agriculture to steal data, company information, or even shut down the operation in order to get money.
She says companies of all sizes are at risk of cyberattacks. There have been highly publicized attacks of large food systems, such as an Iowa grain cooperative, Colonial Pipeline, and JBS Foods USA. And for the average farmer, here’s what’s at risk: automation systems (milkers, ventilation, precision ag), online banking information, email addresses, and other online record-keeping information.
Steps You Can Take
Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your farm from cyber attacks:
- Install a multi-factor authentication (MFA)- this requires two or more pieces of information to confirm that “you” are really “you” when logging into a system
- Install antivirus and malware protection
- Preventative maintenance- just like your equipment, do this with your software or technology
- Have a long, unique, and complex password that is at least 12 characters long, includes special characters, numbers, or capital letters, and is not the same as another password
- Purchase cyber insurance
- Train employees about malicious emails and limit the number of ‘administrators’ on your systems
- Develop a cyber breach plan with trusted advisors (insurer, bank, accountant, etc)
Here are some resources you can look into for more information or support for cyber security:
- Talk to trusted advisors, such as your insurance, accounting firm, or bank on how to keep your information safe
- Reach out to your local extension office
- The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency ransomware guidance on its website- check it out for ways to protect your farm against cyber infiltration
- Check out the FBI’s website for cybersecurity guidance for additional tips
Stay safe online and stay alert of the latest cyber threats. Learn more about how to stay safe against cybersecurity threats by contacting your local Rural Mutual insurance agent.