Protect your data from cyberattacks

August 10, 2021
Sarah Engstrom, chief information security officer at CHS, discusses the uptick in cybercrime and provides tips to help protect your data.

Ransomware attacks have put high-profile supply-chain companies on edge. Cybercriminals may target those organizations because of their real or perceived vulnerabilities, but other companies are also at risk and the data criminals steal could be yours.

“We’re surrounded by technology and many smaller organizations haven’t had the resources to invest in securing how employees and partners connect with that technology,” says Sarah Engstrom, chief information security officer at CHS. “Unfortunately, the bad actors are going after those organizations they believe are more prone to caving under an attack, and manufacturing, hospitality, education and even governments are among the targets.”

What farmers can do to protect themselves

Be smart about data, says Engstrom. “If you’re using a platform that has multifactor or two-factor authentication, use it. When you get a legitimate notification to update the software on your smartphone or your computer, install the update as soon as possible to ensure you’re keeping your systems current.” Engstrom also recommends using a very strong password system or a password manager such as LastPass to help manage passwords securely.

What farmers should expect from business partners

Farmers should be aware of cybersecurity protocols used companies they do business with. Many have someone on staff who is accountable for cybersecurity and the company’s IT department procedures, says Engstrom. If infrastructure and IT management are outsourced to a third party, then the company needs to hold that third party accountable for security, she adds.

“Gone are the days of shying away from technology,” says Engstrom. “It’s really about engaging with technology and asking questions of people who can help you out.”