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As technology continues to advance, agribusinesses have become more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Cybersecurity is essential to protect businesses, their customers, and their data from growing cybersecurity threats. Here are ten tips that small businesses can use to safeguard themselves against cyber attacks.

1. Train Employees in Security Principles

The first step in creating a cybersecurity strategy for a small business is to train employees in security principles. Establish basic security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords and internet usage guidelines. It is also important to have rules of behavior in place that describe how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.

2. Protect Agribusiness, Computers, and Networks from Cyber Threats

Keeping computers and networks safe from cyber attacks is essential. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Install antivirus software and other key software updates as soon as they are available.

3. Provide Firewall Security for Your Internet Connection

A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. It is important to make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or to install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home systems are protected by a firewall.

4. Create a Mobile Device Action Plan

Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password-protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.

5. Prevent Cyber Threats; Make Backup Copies of Important Agribusiness Data and Information

Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.

6. Control Physical Access to Your Computers and Create User Accounts for Each Employee

Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.

7. Secure Your Wi-Fi Networks

If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router, so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.

8. Employ Best Practices on Payment Cards

Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and do not use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.

9. Limit Employee Access to Data and Information, Limit Authority to Install Software

Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs and should not be able to install any software without permission.

10. Passwords and Authentication

Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your account.

Conclusion: Agribusiness, Cyber Threats, and Hardening Defenses

When it comes to cyber security, managed IT services can help small businesses by providing a team of experts who are knowledgeable about the latest security threats and can implement measures to protect the business’s digital assets. This can include installing and maintaining firewalls, anti-virus software, and other security tools, as well as providing regular security assessments and audits to identify vulnerabilities.

Managed IT services can also help small businesses stay up-to-date with the latest security best practices and compliance regulations. This can be especially important for businesses that handle sensitive customer data or financial information, as failing to adequately protect this data can result in costly breaches and damage to the business’s reputation.

Overall, managed IT services can provide small businesses with the expertise and resources needed to stay ahead of cyber security threats and ensure that their digital assets are well-protected.

Post Author: Chris Sherman

Chris grew up in Minnesota’s lakes country and started his first job at 11yrs old doing chores at the neighbor’s dairy farm. Summers were spent cleaning stalls, hauling silage, milking cows, raking hay, and endless hours picking rocks.

After graduating high school, he spent 10 years in industrial manufacturing. In 2005 he began studying Lean Manufacturing through the Shingo Prize Institute and passed his Bronze Level exams. Later he went on to redesign several production processes, and led facilities through numerous technological upgrades. During this time, Chris pursued his formal education, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Rasmussen University of Fargo. Ultimately, he received his MBA from Benedictine University in 2016.

In 2014 Chris returned to agriculture and took a position with a North Dakota based ag construction company. He spent the next 8 years managing the company’s service department, overseeing large-scale irrigation projects, and construction of grain handling facilities across North Dakota and Minnesota.

Currently, Chris lives in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota with his wife and children. He sat on the board of directors for the Becker County Economic Development Authority and the county’s Housing Authority for six years. He served as the board president until the end of his term in 2020.